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A Tumultuous Decade: Employment Outcomes of Immigrants in the Czech Republic
March 2014

A Tumultuous Decade: Employment Outcomes of Immigrants in the Czech Republic

The immigrant population in the Czech Republic has grown considerably over the past 15 years, more than doubling since 2000. The 2000s also brought significant changes to the Czech labor market, and to the profile of migrants coming to the country and settling for the long term—not least because of significant institutional and policy changes resulting from accession to the European Union, as well as the arrival of the economic crisis at the end of the decade. This changing political and economic climate coincides with substantial fluctuations in immigrants’ economic outcomes.

This report presents detailed labor market outcomes for immigrant groups in the Czech Republic, focusing on trends according to year of arrival, country of origin, gender, level of education, and sector of employment. The analysis, based on data from the Czech Labor Force Survey, suggests that the challenge of reducing obstacles to immigrant workers’ progression into more skilled employment are worth significant policy attention. The report is part of a series that explores the labor market integration of new immigrants in several European Union countries.

This report is part of a research project funded by the European Union and conducted in collaboration with the International Labour Office. The case studies in this phase of the project consider the influence of individual characteristics and broader economic conditions on the employment prospects of foreign-born workers. The second phase will evaluate the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.


This project is funded by the European Union

The two major groupings of migrants to the Czech Republic—immigrants from postcommunist countries and immigrants from Western and developed countries—have experienced different labor market trajectories. Immigrants from Western and developed countries do not seem to face obstacles to employment in high-skilled jobs (in fact, many of them are in the country because they are employed in high-skilled work). 

The majority of migrants in the Czech labor force, however, come from former communist countries—notably Ukraine, Russia, and Vietnam—alongside smaller numbers from new EU Member States. Immigration from postcommunist countries has brought some notable challenges in a country where dedicated immigrant integration policies are virtually nonexistent. On average, the employment rates of these migrants are roughly similar to those of native-born Czechs, but migrants from formerly communist countries are more likely to be employed in low-skilled jobs. There is also evidence of “brain waste” among this group—while they tend to be highly educated, their higher levels of education do not appear to have translated into highly skilled employment.


Table of Contents 

I.  Introduction

II.  Overview of the Migrant Population in the Czech Republic

A.  Countries of Origin

B.  Characteristics of Migrants and Natives: Differences in Distributions of Educational Attainment, Gender, Age, and Job Tenure

III.  Immigrant Employment Outcomes During the 2000s

A.  Employment Rates     

B.  Occupational Skill Levels

C.  Type of Employment

D.  Sectoral Trends

IV.  Conclusions