Despite the relatively strict legislative and institutional framework, labour migration from third countries to Slovakia has grown significantly over the recent years: between 2015 and early 2019 the number of workers from third countries increased more than five times, from 6,100 to 35,500 (statistics of the Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family; rounded figures).
Despite this, the lack of workforce in a wide range of professions continues to affect the Slovak economy, which can potentially reduce economic growth, diminish productivity and halt innovation. For example, according to a survey by the Business Alliance of Slovakia and the INEKO Institute, published in April 2018, up to 38% of Slovak employers claimed they were forced to reject orders due to labour shortages, while every second company planned to solve this problem by employing foreign workers. Thus, for the first time in its modern history, Slovakia faces a demand for liberalisation of its restrictive labour migration policy.
In the short term, the labour market will face further significant changes resulting from the unfavourable demographic situation (population ageing, of working age population, emigration) or other possible structural changes linked with a growing need for (highly) skilled workforce that is lacking on the market. At the same time, this dramatic development is taking place in the context of growing racism and xenophobia.
In 2018, the Slovak government reflected the situation by adopting the Strategy for Labour Mobility of Foreigners which sets out short-term and long-term measures to facilitate the recruitment of foreign workers. However, if Slovakia is to succeed in the global competition for workforce and talent, it is essential to create comprehensive and effective migration policy in order to actively motivate foreign workers, students and entrepreneurs to come to Slovakia, taking into account the socio-economic needs of the country and best practice from other EU countries and emphasising social cohesion and the protection of rights of domestic and foreign workers.
In this context, the European Migration Agency assisted the Republic Union of Employers' (RUZ) and the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in the preparation and submission the project aimed to implement the above-mentioned strategy in practice to the European Commission under the Structural Reform Support Programme.