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BUSINESS FOCUS - EUROPEAN UNION

Answering fears of labour influx

SLOVAKIA will not take reciprocal measures to prevent the free access of current EU members to its job market. Meanwhile, the citizens of third countries - non-member countries - will need work permits. The Slovak Spectator asked Slovak human resources experts about the possible impacts of the move on the country's labour market.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you think that the government's decision to give EU members free access to the Slovak job market will have any impact on the country?

SLOVAKIA will not take reciprocal measures to prevent the free access of current EU members to its job market. Meanwhile, the citizens of third countries - non-member countries - will need work permits. The Slovak Spectator asked Slovak human resources experts about the possible impacts of the move on the country's labour market.


The Slovak Spectator (TSS): Do you think that the government's decision to give EU members free access to the Slovak job market will have any impact on the country?

Ronald Bastýř (RB - branch manager at TMP/Hudson Global Resources): - Not until the Slovak work permit process is simplified, which has not been the case over the past years. Unless organisations and private businesses in Slovakia suddenly have the need for labour from EU member states, we don't see incoming labour being an issue in Slovakia. Although we are now seeing more foreigners taking an active interest in employment in Slovakia from the management level down, their salary expectations and lack of local language skills usually make them less competitive than a local candidate. Foreign organisations that are, and have been, employing expatriates will probably have an easier time with the National Labour Office.


Marcela Hrapková (MH - consultant at Teamconsult): There will be one less bureaucratic measure that EU citizens encounter on the Slovak market. Considering the fact that the majority of these newcomers are representatives of foreign investors from economically strong countries, the absence of such preventive measures could in no way hurt the local job market - it can only enhance it. Realistically, we do not have to worry about any workforce invasion from stable European economies, as our job market has little to offer a regular EU citizen not coming from another accession country.

What our neighbours, including the Czech Republic, are currently discussing and are more worried about is the free access of other new members, like the Baltic countries, to their job market. However, I do not expect any dramatic moves around the EU and our territory, and if so, then isn't free movement of people one of the four basic freedoms the European Union is grounded on? It's just that it takes a longer time for some countries to get used to that and finally open up.


Dalibor Jakuš (DJ - Profesia.sk chief executive): I assume that there will be no or almost no impact on the market. For people from the old EU member countries, Slovakia is not a place where they would have a reason to massively seek job.

The most important reason is that there is no job surplus in Slovakia and the country has the second highest unemployment rate among the EU members. This step of the government is, rather, a reasonable political gesture that shows that it is better for a small country to be generous than petty.


TSS: How will Slovakia's labour market develop in the near future?

RB: With the influx of new investors over recent years and today, we see the labour market has never been so dynamic or had such broad opportunities from entry-level to management positions. We see a "war for talent" beginning, as foreign companies are constantly looking for the best talent, and job seekers will work more on selling themselves to meet the market's expectations.


MH: We expect the labour market to grow continuously in size and standard with respect to new investments and the accession to the EU. We also expect the unemployment rate in certain regions like eastern Slovakia to dip as a result of balancing differences in the regions. We already opened a new branch office in Prešov last month. We still have a lot to learn in terms of style and quality of work.


DJ: The lack of skilled and high-quality labour in fields where we already feel this lack will probably increase. It is possible that branches where some EU members lack the workers (for example, the healthcare sector) will lure Slovak labour.

However, these changes were present even before EU entry, so it will only be a logical continuation of this process. In the border regions, migration from the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland might also appear and people might take jobs in the nearby factories and companies (for example those of carmakers) that will shortly begin offering competitive salaries.

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