Survey reveals Czechs not exactly in favour of expats

Survey reveals Czechs not exactly in favour of expats

Survey reveals Czechs not exactly in favour of expats

Is the controversy over the increasing number of expats in the Czech Republic finally easing towards acceptance?

Ten years ago, before the huge rise in expatriation for work purposes, some 57 per cent of the Czech public thought there were too many foreigners in their country. A decade later, a new survey by the Czech Public Opinion Research Centre reveals that some 40 per cent of Czechs still believe fewer foreign residents would be the best idea, with half the population saying the numbers are adequate. Reports on the recent results are trying hard to sell the difference between now and 10 years ago as an improvement, but it’s clear that expatriates still aren’t seen as part of the local community.

Analysis of the responses to a number of related questions in the survey also may not reassure expats of their welcome should they be reassigned to the country, as 77 per cent of respondents believe expats should only be allowed to stay long-term under certain defined conditions, whilst 16 per cent wanted to ban all foreigners from entering in the first place. Just 38 per cent of respondents believed expats should be given permission to stay simply because they liked the country, although 51 per cent believed political or religious persecution in their home countries was sufficient reason to give immigrants permission to stay.

Many of those surveyed felt strongly that learning Czech and sticking to Czech cultural norms should be mandatory for expat residents, with only just under a quarter believing foreigners should adopt to the culture as much as is possible. The survey itself poses major questions for would-be expats, especially those in Prague’s growing tech sector, as to whether the republic is a good place to base a startup or to grow a tech-based career. Another of the survey’s disturbing results is that, for the vast majority of respondents, expats should only be allowed in to study or undertake degree-level education.

Although skill shortages in the city and especially in the tech sector are a serious problem, unemployment is at its lowest ebb for years in spite of calls for expat experts. It would seem that, in the long-term, unless the Czech population relaxes its negative feelings towards its expat community, those most needed to spur the region's 21st century economy might well look elsewhere.

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