Ostrava - the city of a wide industrial heritage and scarce job openings for non-Czech speakers
Located in the northeast of the Czech Republic, the city of Ostrava is considered to be the capital of the Moravian-Silesian Region, straddling the border of the two historic provinces - Moravia and Silesia. It's the third largest city in the country and the second largest in Moravia with around 300 thousand inhabitants. When walking just a few kilometers northwards, you may already come across the Polish border. If you like rivers, as many as four can be found in the town: the Odra, Opava, Ostravice, and Lucina. The wider urban area encompasses some other smaller municipalities such as Bohumin, Doubrava, Havirov, Karvina, Orlova, Petrvald, and Rychvald, providing a home for another half a million people which makes it the largest conurbation in the country right after the capital city of Prague.
Living in Ostrava
Ostrava is sometimes called "Black Ostrava" and "Steel City" due to its heavy industry history. Ostrava's Vitkovice district was the center of the local iron and steel industry for decades. Though, this old image is slowly dispersing with promoting the industrial heritage as a part of an emerging tourism industry. Former coal mines provide an interesting opportunity to gain insight into life underground. Ema slag-heap today represents a pleasant environment to walk around, with exotic plants and trees thriving thanks to the heat from a permanent fire burning deep underground. The town consists of some 23 municipal districts which were originally towns and villages in their own right before being incorporated into the city of Ostrava. The closeness of the Slovak and Polish borders brings to the city a mix of nationalities, but for foreigners wanting to work in Ostrava, the ability to speak and understand Czech at least a bit will help a lot as English is not much spoken or displayed on signs within the city.
Besides the industrial heritage, Ostrava offers quite a rich cultural life such as annual music festival "Colours of Ostrava" that attracts international artists and visitors, and there is also a world-class orchestra, four theaters, a medieval castle, a mining museum as well as hundreds of bars and nightclubs based in the city. Stodolní Street is Ostrava’s legendary entertainment district, boasting over 60 bars, clubs, restaurants and cafés offering a huge range of food and drink plus music of all genres. Like New York, Stodolní Street never sleeps. English speakers are advised to join "Britské centrum", The British Library of Ostrava near the town center (street 28. října 2) to get in contact with many English speakers, and this is probably the best place in the city to get some good books and CDs in English language.
A working life in Ostrava for foreigners
As mentioned before, employers in Ostrava city are generally less willing to employ a person without basic knowledge of Czech language compared to other big cities like Prague and Brno. But that's no reason to throw in the towel since there's still quite a few employers who welcome people from abroad, especially those higher-skilled. Among the top employers in the town, we may count brands like Tieto, Siemens, Okin, Comdata, GE Money, and ABB. Employment contracts are customary in Ostrava, whether for an employment relationship for a definite or indefinite period, temporary work or seasonal employment. Despite there is no central registry of job openings in Ostrava, most of the recruitment agencies and direct employers can be easily reached out online such as on Monster.cz or Monster.com.
If you are lucky enough to hire a good job, it’s not likely you have another problem working in Ostrava as the formalities relating to it are required to be handled by an employer, not employees. People coming from any EU member state don’t need a work permit. They have free hands to start doing their job immediately, only their employers have to send an info card to the Labor office. For non-EU citizens, a work permit (“povolení k zaměstnání”) or a long-term residence permit ("povolení k dlouhodobému pobytu") is required along with a visa issued for work purposes. The official authority to file an application for the work permit is the Labor Office of the Czech Republic ("Úřad práce České republiky") with the main Ostrava office in street 30. dubna 3130/2c. The application has to include the potential employer, the job position, the place of work, and the length of time the job will last. The website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs offers detailed instructions on how to fill in and submit the application for the work permit.
Article is written by Lukáš Beňa
Lukas works as an independent PR specialist, copywriter, translator and technical writer. He is a very good ping-pong player, philosopher and lover of cats. More about Lukas