Slovakia’s government approves strategy for labor mobility of foreigners

The government on Wednesday approved a draft strategy for labor mobility of foreigners in Slovakia. The strategy includes measures to facilitate the arrival of workers from outside the EU to the Slovak labor market. According to the labor ministry, these measures will be temporary and extraordinary and are a response to the current shortage of qualified labor in the Slovak labor market. The ministry, however, admits that the government will later consider whether to keep these measures in place. It noted that the objective was to create an environment where the labor market will not be a brake, but a catalyst for sustainable economic growth through highly qualified human resources, allowing Slovakia to compete for high value added investments. Short-term measures include shortening the time limit for a decision whether to grant a temporary residence permit in the case of workforce shortages from 90 days to a maximum of 30 days since delivery of an application. Employers will be required to report a vacancy to the labor office. The list of jobs with a shortage of employees as well as the districts concerned should be updated quarterly and not annually as at present. Another measure is to reduce the administrative burden for applicants when submitting evidence of formal education — the condition of informing on achieved education would be preserved only for regulated professions, such as in healthcare, legal, or pedagogical professions.

The social partners agreed on the draft strategy in late-September. Note that the growing labor shortages are increasingly becoming the main bottleneck to the economy and may hinder faster expansion going forward. Note however that bridging the gap with foreign workers is only a short-term solution, while the government must instead focus on reforming the education system so as to secure a better match between the labor force and the demand for labor on part of the employers. Unfortunately, more than two years after coming into office, the government has failed to propose and enact a comprehensive education reform.

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