THE ROLE of individual tutor, to help migrants manoeuvre through the initial difficulties of their new professional lives, is very popular in Nordic countries, but is still unknown in Slovakia. The job of Lucia Lamprechtová, a relocation specialist with IBM Slovensko who helps specific employees in her company, is perhaps the closest equivalent in Slovakia.
Eight years ago technology company IBM opened an International Service Centre in Bratislava, which today employs 22 different nationalities, speaking 24 languages.
The centre, which specialises in finance and customer fulfilment, employs foreigners who directly support IBM activities in their home country.
“This is why we need foreigners and mainly native speakers,” Lamprechtová said.
IBM employs 230 foreigners of whom 160 are EU citizens; the other 70 have come from outside the European Union. There are also 87 assignees who are not on a Slovak contract but are instead assigned to work in Slovakia for only one or two years, Lamprechtová said.
IBM uses many channels to find candidates, said Lamprechtová, adding that she often speaks to labour offices. The company also uses agencies, employee recommendations and IBM offices in other countries, but also accepts candidates who contact the company on their own initiative.
“We have a programme within the company so that if an employee recommends a friend [who is subsequently hired] then the employee gets a bonus in return for the recommendation,” Lamprechtová said.
Most of IBM’s foreign employees relocate for personal reasons or because they want to obtain international experience.
Lamprechtová confirms that the process of completing all the technicalities associated with employing a foreigner can take about four months depending on the status of the applicant, such as whether he or she is an EU or a non-EU citizen or requires a visa.
“Sometimes, there are problems with education documents, for example the translation of diplomas and the certification and authorization of these documents, and the power of attorney,” Lamprechtová said. “We also need to justify why we want to hire a foreigner for the job.”
What Lamprechtová currently regards as being the biggest problem is that while work permits can be issued for a maximum of two years, labour offices are currently issuing them only for one year.
“It is additional paper work for us,” Lamprechtová said. “Perhaps the labour office believes that the unemployment rate is too high in Slovakia.”
Renewal of a work permit takes about 45 days.
Problems can also emerge with the need to submit criminal records, because some countries do not issue documents equivalent to those produced by Slovak authorities, she said.
The company organises in-house activities for new employees and an ‘open house’ where they meet the whole company.
Then there is a separate event called Slovakia for Foreigners, with presentations about the health system, transport system, and even tax issues, said Lamprechtová, who serves as a contact person for the company.
Lamprechtová also assists employees with accommodation, especially when they change address and need to go to the foreign police or health insurance office, and helps them navigate the tax system.