A center to help foreigners is opening in the Ostrava and the Moravia-Silesia region on March 2. It will operate as a pilot program for one year, at 20 hours a week. After an evaluation, further steps will be decided.
“It will be called Expat centrum Ostrava and it will help foreigners to live and work with us —to make use of their education and experience, or to start working in professions that are in demand in the regional market. The staff of the center will also help them and their families find housing, provide health care, or choose leisure activities,” Ostrava Mayor Tomáš Macura (ANO) said.
Ostrava took its inspiration from Brno, which has has a similar center since 2010. A center will be established in Prague this year. “Our goal is, among other things, to keep qualified foreigners on the local labor market. For this reason, the center is being established to ensure communication between the city, the partners and those who come to live and stay for some time. Individual services and offers will respond to their demand,” Macura added.
Ostrava is at the heart of a former industrial area with jobs in mining and metalwork. Recently it has been trying to reinvent itself as a hub for culture, services and tech-based industries.
While unemployment is low in the Czech Republic, the Moravia-Silesia region is an exception. According to the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, at the end of January 2020 the city of Ostrava had an unemployment rate of 5.3%, while nearby Karvina had the nation’s highest at 6.9%. The average in the Czech Republic was 3.1%, and Prague East was the lowest at 1.2%.
The ministry uses a different methodology than the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ), which put unemployment in the Czech Republic in the fourth quarter of 2019 at 2.1%, but did not offer a regional breakdown.
Still, in every region jobs are open for skilled workers and foreigners are sought in particular for high-tech jobs.
Expat centrum Ostrava will be operated by the Moravian-Silesian Innovation Center. (Moravskoslezské inovační centrum)
“In addition to information services, educational and development events, the center will build partnerships with universities, employers, service providers, public administration organizations, and well-functioning communities. Thanks to this network of partners, it will offer foreigners links to address their individual needs,” Alena Danielová, project manager from the Moravian-Silesian Innovation Center, said according to daily Právo.
Expat centrum Ostrava will be located on Českobratrská Street in the center of Ostrava. The city is preparing an information campaign to present the center to the public. It will also be promoted over social media.
In the first year of operation the city will invest 2.3 million CZK into the center. Foreigners will receive information in English, but the center’s should also be able to communicate in other languages, such as German and Russian.
At the end of 2018, the Moravia-Silesia region had 27,987 registered foreigners, not counting people with asylum. The city of Ostrava had 12,166 foreigners. Regional figures for 2019 are not yet available.
Across the Czech Republic, at the end of 2019 there were 595,881 registered foreigners, with the largest number coming from Ukraine, followed by Slovakia, Vietnam, Russia, Poland and Germany.