Summary

Engineers and other technical professionals belong to high shortage occupations for the Czech Republic.

Looking at past, current and future trends (3-4 years), a number of occupations have been identified as mismatch priority occupations for Czech Republic, i.e. they are either in shortage of surplus. Shortage occupation: an occupation that is in short supply of workers, and for which the employers typically face difficulties finding a suitable candidate. Surplus occupation: an occupation for which there are plenty of suitable workers available but low demand. The employers have no problems filling such posts.

The list below is based on an assessment of the labour market of Czech Republic. The occupations presented are not given any rank. All of them present high mismatch.

Shortage Occupations

Engineers and other technical professionals [1]

Technical engineering was the fastest growing sector in the Czech labour market between 2000 and 2015. [2] The sub-sector “Manufacturing of transport equipment” grew by 135 thousand employees in that period, which represents an increase of 110% over the 2000 figure. The general occupational group of engineers and other technical professionals is reported to have grown by 33% between 2000 and 2015. Further growth is projected until 2025, with the total number of workers in this group forecast to grow from 185 thousand in 2015 to 220 thousand in 2025. Specific sectors that report considerable tendency towards shortages of skilled workers with engineering and other technical backgrounds include: energy industry, electrotechnology, mining, construction and planning, automotive, and high value-added industries such as micromechanics. [3] Shortages can be explained by the decline in interest in secondary and tertiary technical and vocational education pathways in the population. In 2005, 46 thousand pupils entered the first year of VET programmes on EQF level 3, and 48 thousand people started their first year in VET programmes on EQF level 4. In 2015, there were only 31 thousand first-year learners in VET at EQF 3 and around 36.5 thousand at EQF 4. [4] At the primary and lower-secondary education levels, experts[5] point to low quality and poor efficiency of mathematics education. The method of teaching mathematics in primary schools has become obsolete, leaving pupils discouraged from engaging with mathematics and not motivated to pursue mathematics at levels above elementary skills that are necessary for continuing in technical specialisations at the upper-secondary and tertiary levels. At the upper-secondary level, vocational and technical branches of education are perceived as a choice for less able students without ambitions to continue to higher education. In VET programmes also tend to suffer from lack of progression in teaching methodologies and learning conditions. Another factor is emigration, especially in regions bordering with Germany and Austria. There is a significant tendency for people with technical and vocational skills to seek employment in these neighbouring countries. The commuting workers often accept positions in Germany or Austria that are below their qualification level but pay two to three times more than higher technical positions in Czech Republic. To some extent, this is the case not only for lower-level technical jobs but this is also observed amongst graduates from HE programmes in engineering and technical sciences, where the difference between Czech and German/Austrian salary levels is even more significant.

Nursing and midwifery professionals [6]

In 2000, there were 39 thousand nursing and midwifery professionals in the Czech Republic, whereas in 2015 there were 65 thousand, representing a 66% increase. [7] Shortages are closely related to the development of the legislative background regulating access to the profession. Until 2004, the profession of “General Nurse” was performed by graduates of upper-secondary VET schools with the qualification for nursing at EQF/NQF level 4. This was changed by Act no. 94/2004, On Non-Medical Health Professions and the required level of qualification for “General Nurse” has been raised to EQF/NQF level 6. Effectively, nursing professions were elevated to professions where higher education qualification is required by law. As qualification demands grew, a decline in young people’s interest in applying for secondary health care-related programmes has been observed. Evidence shows that approx. four thousand students graduated from these secondary programmes in 2010, but only approx. three thousand in 2015. [8] An additional aspect is the fact that a general nurse is frequently required to work overtime in demanding work conditions on a below-average salary until gaining sufficient years of practice to qualify for a salary raise. With the condition of studying for seven years towards such prospects, the number of people pursuing this pathway has been declining. Combined with other factors such as work migration of qualified nurses to West European countries, the lack of personnel has been described as “critical” by some representatives of the sector [9], and reported to threaten to cut down both the extent and the quality of health care provided to patients.

Recently, after analysing the systemic consequences of the change in qualification requirements for nurses, the “Tripartity” decided to introduce another series of legislative changes to the system. The Tripartity involves public authorities represented by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, representatives of the workers through the Trade Unions in Health and Medical Care, and the associations of employers in the sector. Specific parameters of the new system are still subject to negotiation, and the proposal for amendment of related legislation should be submitted by the Minister for Health in 2016. However, the following features of the system are already known [10]:

  1. Health Care Assistants (EQF 4) become “Practical Nurses” with the possibility of performing a variety of specialised tasks and activities currently reserved for General Nurses (EQF 6) under supervision by a General Nurse;
  2. Practical Nurses and (existing) Health Care Assistants are allowed to gain the necessary qualification to become General Nurses in a shortened period of one year of study at a Higher Vocational School.

As for further changes, the new legislation will see some current specialisations in nursing, such as “Radiological Nurse” and “Laboratory Assistant”, incorporated in Practical Nurse and General Nurse Qualifications. The changes in qualification requirements will be accompanied with measures to regulate work conditions of nurses, especially with respect to (un)paid overtime hours and through a raise in starting salaries.

Medical doctors and other health professionals [11]

In the Czech Republic, the profession of medical doctors is discussed as one of the most prone to the phenomenon of “exodus” of a skilled workforce to other countries. In 2014, there were around 38 thousand actively working medical doctors.[12] In 2009, only 64 doctors applied at the Czech Medical Chamber for confirmation of their medical licence to be used abroad. In 2015 it is estimated that as many as 400 experienced medical doctors and up to 100 freshly graduated doctors will apply for a job in foreign country - this would represent an increase of almost 800% since 2009, which constitutes a critical problem. Given that Czech medical universities produce around 1 thousand graduates a year, the current loss of the system amounts to a half of the input. Three factors are recognised as key for medical doctors to consider foreign employment:

  1. the salary – the starting salary of an attested medical specialist in Germany is double to triple (depending on specialisation) of that of a Czech doctor at the same position. With greater experience and specialisation the difference tends to wider;
  2. the work conditions.- the health care system is chronically affected by challenging work conditions including long overtime hours (only partially paid), inefficient system of shift assignment and inequalities in work conditions of senior medical staff as compared to junior doctors;
  3. the attestation - the system of specialising education and attestation of medical doctors is overly complicated as well as centralised, which results in a lack of specialist doctors in regions and limited career prospects for junior doctors. The supply of medical doctors is likely to be further affected by an aging workforce.

Doctors often continue to remain active and practice for some time after their retirement age, mainly due to lack of available replacements. This is particularly true for remote regions. The situation is critical for paediatricians - in 2012 as many as 715 were older than 60 years as compared to a 75 paediatricians younger than 40 years.

An immediate approach for tackling with the shortage is to replace Czech doctors leaving by doctors from other countries, most significantly Slovakia. However, the longevity of this approach is limited. A series of more structural measures is in preparation by the Ministry of Health in cooperation with Czech Medical Chamber and municipalities that run regional hospitals. Three major efforts will be: (1) increase in funding for higher education in medicine and related sciences, so that universities are able to reach the goal of increasing yearly production of absolvents by 15%, or at least 1200 new doctors a year; (2) improvement in work conditions of doctors, including better work/leisure time management and increase in salaries at all levels of seniority; (3) simplification of the system of specialising education and attestation for specialist licences, accompanied by measures to streamline career prospects for young doctors.

ICT professionals [13]

Two EU-wide factors are considered to cause the skills shortages for ICT professionals in the Czech Republic. Firstly, the universal deployment of ICT and their penetration into all areas of socio-economic reality generate the need for ICT skills in virtually all sectors.

Secondly, the rapid development in ICT cannot be met with a correspondingly swift response on the supply side of education. Qualification programmes focused on ICT are less flexible in incorporating changes, new approaches and technologies than the actual market for which they are supposed to produce specialists. Another significant factor observed is the scarcity of highly specialised ICT skills such as programming, IT architecture and system development as compared to an increase in “advanced user” or “semi-professional” level of ICT skills in the general population. Hence the need for companies to distinguish more carefully between the two different categories. The most important factor determining the shortage of ICT professionals is their migration to employment in Western Europe, thus there is need to:

  1. improve conditions for the domestic workforce to stay;
  2. improve the outcomes of the education system to be able to adapt more swiftly and efficiently to the skill needs generated in the labour market; and
  3. capitalise as much as possible on immigration into the Czech Republic from third countries.

A specific example of skills shortage related to ICT professionals is reported by the Czech public administration sector.[14]   The newly introduced Act no. 234/2014, On Public Service, has brought regulations that strictly limit eligible salaries including benefits in the public sector, and prolong hiring procedures to up to 6 months by introducing. The combination of these factors has made the public sector uncompetitive with the private sector in hiring ICT professionals, more strikingly so in the period of rising demand for quality eGovernment services. An analysis is currently being conducted into possible ways of amending the situation.

Teachers [15]

Shortages in teaching professions are caused by the fact that fewer graduates from pedagogy choose to pursue teaching careers. [16] Nevertheless, there are no systematic statistics available to observe different career pathways of pedagogy graduates. According to analysis [17] and statistical data [18] available, several main phenomena and factors are recognised in relation to the lack of a skilled workforce of Teachers:

  1. insufficient salaries - this applies to other professional groups but is especially acute for teachers. According to Czech Statistical Office, the average salary of a primary education teacher is currently just 60% of the average salary of people with university education;
  2. low prestige of pedagogic education - in the Czech Republic, the notion persists that studying a pedagogical faculty is a second or third option for those who failed at entry exams to other fields of study;
  3. limited career prospects due to rigid career development system also exacerbates the aging of Czech teaching population. Similarly, as with medical doctors, regional primary and secondary schools often retain post-retirement age teachers due to lack of younger recruits. [19] Finally, a lack of funding results in many schools offering teachers only temporary contracts thus forcing teachers to seek temporary jobs, often non-qualified, for the period of the two months of summer break.

Partial attempts to solve the chronic under-financing of education, and the teaching profession, have been a constant in Czech policy making. However, no systemic reform has yet been implemented (nor is one foreseen for short- to mid-term future). The political debate has been reduced to a permanent negotiation between the state, municipalities and Trade Unions in Education on the topic of salaries. Softer measures can be found in the system of EU structural funds. Currently, virtually every educational institution in the country implements projects co-funded by ESF, mostly to compensate for the insufficient funding from the state or municipality. In the current funding period, the Operation Programme Research, Development and Education is primarily focused on this sector. There has been no evidence found on any systemic measures taken to improve the profile and perceived esteem of studying pedagogy.

Surplus Occupations

The following can be regarded as surplus occupations in the Czech Republic: Workers in hospitality and gastronomy sector. A surplus here is mainly caused by high level of fluctuation in the industry combined with a relatively high number of VET students and graduates from related programmes as compared to other VET specialisations that tend to be areas of declining interest. Gastronomy and Hospitality is the largest sector in Czech VET as regards the number of learners: over eight thousand per year. [20]  Project managers. This is a specific group of professionals who tend to have various qualification backgrounds but may be considered to be in surplus due to the temporary nature of project work, and due to the proliferation of the title of the profession itself. The surplus tendency would, however, concern mainly project managers in “soft” projects, typically implemented by the non-profit sector, consulting sector and academic sector. The situation in ICT project management shows the opposite development. General and keyboard clerks. According to Czech Labour Office, this occupation has one of highest shares of job seekers to available vacancies on the labour market. It is influenced by progress of digital technologies, that are able to replace humans in performing ever-increasing amount of office related tasks. In addition to that, there is large number of job seekers, fed by graduates from both secondary and tertiary fields of study related to humanities and social sciences. Architects and urban planners and designers.

Although Czech building construction sector and real estate market finally recovered from the long-term crisis after 2008, the demand for these high-skilled jobs is still significantly weaker than their supply. Tertiary graduates of architecture and design face especially difficult situation on the labour market and their unemployment rate is several times higher than in case of other technical universities. [21] The current unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is at a modern historical low (approx. 6% in December 2015) and the number of vacant jobs has reached historical high (approx. 108 thousand in January 2016).Such an economic period does not imply a need for structural measures to be taken to tackle workforce and skills surplus. On the contrary, skills shortages have been more of a problem than ever before. However, the above mentioned National Register of Qualifications and the related instrument of (Partial) Vocational Qualification should be seen as measures that can be used to tackle skills surpluses. This is the case especially for groups whose original skills and qualification backgrounds have become obsolete. This group includes agriculture workers and certain administrative professions. A tendency in policy making towards lowering the number of applicants to HE programmes in humanities and social sciences that may be reaching surplus in the years to come is also observed. This is especially due to the general, non-specialised profiles of some educational programmes in this sector. [22]

Note on the methodology

The list has been compiled by Cedefop in the first half of 2016 combining quantitative and qualitative methods. In particular, a list of mismatch occupations was formulated following quantitative analysis of labour market indicators. Country experts were then asked to build on and scrutinise this list. Their expert assessment and knowledge of the country’s labour market has provided rich insights about the reasons behind the skills shortages or surpluses at occupational level. These are also accompanied by measures and policies that aim to tackle such mismatches. Country’s stakeholders have also been included in validating the final list of occupations.

Find here more data and information about Czech Republic.

References

[1] Engineering professionals (excluding electrotechnology) (ISCO 214); Electrotechnology engineers (ICSO 215)

[2] According to a study coordinated by the National Institute for Education, Lepič, M. et al.: Vývoj a změny kvalifikačních potřeb trhu práce v ČR v letech 2000 – 2025. Praha: Národní ústav pro vzdělávání, 2015. www.infoabsolvent.cz/Temata/Download?Soubor=F-9.0.106_Vyvoj_a_zmeny_kvalifikacnich_potreb_trhu_prace_v_CR_v_letech_2000-2025.pdf

[3] See e.g. the outcomes of the project „Budoucnost profesí“ („Future of Professions) implemented by the National Observatory for Employment and Education. www.budoucnostprofesi.cz

[6] Nursing and midwifery professionals (ISCO 222); Nursing and midwifery associate professionals (ISCO 322)

[7] Lepič, M. et al 2015.

[11] Medical doctors (ISCO 221); Other health professionals (ISCO 226)

[12] Source of the following data: Czech Medical Chamber  www.lkcr.cz

[13] Software and applications developers and analysts (ISCO 251);

[14] Database and network professionals (ISCO 252).

[15] Primary school and early childhood teachers(ISCO 234); Vocational education teachers (ISCO 232); Secondary education teachers (ISCO 233); Other teaching professionals (ISCO 235)

[16] Based on a validation interview.