WORKING abroad is not as popular amongst Slovaks as it used to be. Fewer Slovaks have been travelling abroad to find jobs than was the case two or three years ago, Boris Divinský, an expert on migration, told the Pravda daily. He thinks that Slovaks will gradually return home from countries where they are paid in dollars or pounds.
“The value of the dollar as well as the pound against the Slovak crown has been decreasing consistently and as a result people, in particular those working in the lowest positions, will think about returning,” said Divinský.
In the first quarter of this year, 176,700 Slovak citizens worked abroad, the Statistics Office reported on June 3, basing its figure on selective labour force surveys. Compared to the first quarter of last year, the number of Slovak workers abroad increased by 0.7 percent. This indicates that the pace of job-seeking departures has slowed.
“The availability of jobs in Slovakia has been improving and fewer people feel the need to leave the country to find a job,” Ivan Chrappa from the Statistics Office said. The reported number does not include those who have been working outside Slovakia for more than a year and those who have already returned to Slovakia.
Compared with the first quarter of 2007, the number of Slovaks working abroad increased by 1,000. At the same time last year, the year-on-year increase was as high as 34,000 people. Compared to the end of 2007, the number of Slovaks working abroad has actually decreased by 11,000.
It is estimated that as many as 250,000 Slovaks are working abroad.
“Most of them work in the Czech Republic,” Mária Čierna from the Labour Ministry told the daily. The Czech ministry estimates their number at over 100,000. About 80,000 Slovaks work in Great Britain.
Divinský thinks that main reason why people work abroad is not changing: the better salaries and new experience on offer. Whether Slovaks return will depend on the development and growth of wages in Slovakia.
According to Peter Lunter, a young Slovak architect who has been working in London for several years, local employers are increasing salaries, especially in lower positions.
“This is particularly visible among Poles,” said Lunter. “They are departing in massive numbers. Companies are therefore trying to keep them and gradually increasing their salaries.”
According to Divinský, it is people who have a job but are not satisfied who are leaving Slovakia to work abroad, rather than the jobless.
9. Jun 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports