Although the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is now one of the lowest in Europe –at 6.2 percent- there are still regions where finding work is a problem. Jobs openings are available around the country but the majority of Czechs are not willing to commute to work. The Labour Ministry has now unveiled a plan to change that.
With the economy growing, companies need more qualified workers and even though many are ready to offer above-average salaries they often have a problem filling job vacancies. Although the Czech Republic has a highly qualified work force, 56 percent of Czechs are not willing to commute long distances to work or move to a different city in search of a better job.
According to labour offices there are approximately 100,000 vacancies on the market which are proving hard to fill long-term. Companies looking for workers usually solve the problem by taking on foreign workers from Poland or Ukraine. The Labour Ministry is now preparing to launch a pilot project aimed at increasing labour mobility in regions where unemployment is traditionally high by making it advantageous for people to travel to work rather than staying on the dole. Labour Minister Michaela Marksová says the project should benefit both individuals and companies.
“Some companies which badly need qualified workers have even started arranging commuting for groups of employees from different areas. We want to support qualified workers looking for jobs and to make it worth their while to commute.”
An EU funded pilot project should be launched in four regions – Usti, South Moravia, Olomouc and Moravia-Silesia – where hundreds of unemployed persons will be offered a financial contribution to cover part or most of their travel expenditures. Applications will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and the financial contribution will only be given in cases where it is obvious that the applicant does not have the chance of securing a job they are qualified for within a ten to twenty kilometer distance from their home.
The idea is to motivate people whose travel expenditures would otherwise slice off a considerable part from their salary and leave them with little more than they would have by staying on the dole in their home town. The ministry expects about 2,500 people to benefit from the project in the coming months, but says the number may be much higher once the OKD mining company, the biggest employer in the Moravia Silesia region starts laying off employees.
Presently the number of unemployed is at just over 450,000 of which 200, 000 people who have been out of work for a year or longer. The ministry is hoping that this and other measures to fight long-term unemployment – such as planned tax breaks for companies ready to take on people who have been unemployed for a year or more – will help around 60,000 long-term unemployed return to work.