Germans and Austrians look for brains

THE OPENING of German-speaking labour markets across Europe last year has not caused any significant outflow of Slovaks abroad. The interest from those markets has focused in particular on qualified labour, which is also in short supply in Slovakia. Qualifications and the [German] language have become the decisive criteria for foreign employers, and many Slovak applicants have a problem with satisfying them.

THE OPENING of German-speaking labour markets across Europe last year has not caused any significant outflow of Slovaks abroad. The interest from those markets has focused in particular on qualified labour, which is also in short supply in Slovakia. Qualifications and the [German] language have become the decisive criteria for foreign employers, and many Slovak applicants have a problem with satisfying them.

Personnel agencies immediately registered a significant increase in offers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland after the labour markers in those countries opened in May 2011. But interest later subsided.

“The reason was simple,” Branislav Holík, personnel manager at Trenkwalder in Slovakia, told the Hospodárske Noviny daily. “The interest is especially in qualified positions and there is not enough free labour in the required sectors.”

The Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family does not keep accurate statistics about how many Slovaks have left Slovakia for these countries since their markets opened up. But according to spokesperson Peter Zeman, it is not possible to speak about a steep increase. He estimates that about 200,000 Slovaks work in total in EU countries.

The Austrian statistics office registered 16,800 Slovaks as working in Austria during the first quarter of 2012, according to Renáta Goldírová, the head of the press department of the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry. Compared with 2010 this represented an increase of 1,400. A more significant increase was registered in Switzerland and especially in Germany, where over 13,000 Slovaks work.

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