William Malcolm

Czech Companies In US Continue To Face Labor Shortages Due To Pandemic

The US labor market has long suffered from labor shortages. Czech companies operating in the USA are now also facing problems. Czechs as well as Americans lack workers in warehouses and other low-skilled employees. In the long run, however, there is a lack of more specialized experts, such as software developers or production managers. 

“There are not many Czech companies employing a larger number of workers in the United States and they do not come to the USA primarily for cheap labor,” describes Luboš Matějka, the regional director of CzechTrade for North America and Australia based in Chicago, for the needs of Czech entrepreneurs.

The acute shortage of jobseekers began to manifest itself in the United States this spring. explains Matějka.

This was true both in hospitality and services, as well as in other unskilled positions. “We record fewer applicants in practically all positions and at all branches,” states Barbora Habětínková, the HR startup of the ShipMonk logistics startup.

The company, which has offices in Florida, California and Pennsylvania, employs 1,100 people, mostly in warehouses. “We register a large shortage of applicants, especially in Pennsylvania, which is due to a large concentration of companies and a high demand for labor,” he adds.

Strong competition from employers also affects more frequent dismissals from employees who can afford to choose from many job offers. “There is a tough fight between companies, especially in filling positions where manual work is performed,” confirms Jan Vintlík, director of Albaform, which manufactures car parts.

It employs 135 people in its US branch. Since last summer, it has been facing a shortage of workers who operate welding robots and machines. “Although we do not necessarily require technical education, we still do not have enough applicants. We attribute this to the unemployment benefits offered by the federal government due to the pandemic, “he said.

However, the shortage of employees is not limited to low-skilled positions. “For a long time, we have been short of people in professional technical positions in middle management, especially where we need training in production management according to our certification,” the director describes the persistent difficulties.

The problem is also reported by the developers. “In the long run, both in the USA and in Europe, it is difficult to find a sufficient number of software engineers and also people for leadership positions,” says Jiří Nečas, community manager of the technology company Productboard.

In recent months, the company has seen more voluntary resignations than usual. Their main causes include the need to spend more time with their families or the effort to start a business on their own. “For some colleagues, temporary leave was not the solution, so some of them decided to take a longer work break, others decided to start a business and try their luck with their own startup,” explains Nečas.

According to Matějka, the concurrence of several circumstances may be responsible for the crisis on the American labor market. “With the wave of the pandemic fading, people are not so afraid to take risks and change jobs, some companies are canceling work from home and people do not want to return to the offices. Last but not least, companies often require vaccinations against covid, which some employees refuse to accept, ”he explains.

Some fields do not have time to adapt to the rapidly changing situation in connection with covid. “During the pandemic, the number of workers in air transport decreased significantly, but now companies are not enough to respond to the rapidly growing demand, especially in domestic transport,” notes Matějka.