City Hall says most foreigners are satisfied

A study looks at the lives of foreign citizens living and working in Prague

Most foreigners living in Prague are satisfied with their situation and have made steps toward integration, according to research commissioned by City Hall. About 15 percent of the city’s population is made of foreign citizens, which is three times the national average.

The Sociological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences (SOÚ AV ČR) conducted the first large survey of foreigners living in Prague in spring 2017. The goal is for the city to understand their situation and problems, so the city can be better able to set up services aimed at supporting the integration of foreigners into Czech society.

“The current survey … clearly shows that issues related to migrants more affects Prague than other cities in the Czech Republic. According to the Ministry of the Interior, some 190,000 inhabitants with foreign citizenship lived in Prague in the middle of 2017. At the same time, however, the good news for us is that the current concept of working with migrants and their integration is good and headed in the right direction,” City Councilor Jan Wolf (KDU-ČSL) said on the City Hall website.

“Starting with the positive experience with the Czech school system, it continues on the labor market and there is an efficient system of services and support from public and state institutions and non-profit organizations, such as the Prague Integration Center, for example,” he added.

The survey examined various aspects of immigrant life in Prague. There were 1,149 respondents from 54 countries. Some 1,109 respondents came from non-EU countries, and their composition matched the structure of the Prague immigrant population by gender, age, nationality and place of residence.

A smaller probe was carried out with 40 respondents from EU member states.

The questionnaire looked at children’s education and the linguistic competence of foreign citizens, their awareness of their own rights and obligations, their awareness of and experience with public and private services for migrants such as counseling and interpretation, experience with Czech courses and also their future plans and their evaluation of coexistence with the Czech population.

Foreigners living in Prague are a diverse group, taking into account their country of origin, economic status, or the level of mastery of Czech. The survey of non-EU migrants shows that Prague attracts mainly educated and economically active foreigners who often come to the Czech Republic with their whole family.

Most of these immigrants have lived in the Czech Republic for a long time, and the average length of stay is eight years. They are integrated into Czech society.

Economic opportunities are also brought to the capital by migrants who are hired to fill so-called “precarious” jobs.

Approximately one out of five employed immigrants performs unskilled or auxiliary work in Prague. This group can be threatened not only by poverty but also by marginalization, mainly due to low income, precarious residency status, limited knowledge of Czech and frequent social exclusion.

The research also shows that respondents are satisfied with their lives in Prague. Overall, they say they have enough information about their rights and responsibilities, experience few difficulties and rarely encounter significant communication barriers.

Depending on the level and extent of use of Czech in different environments, more than a third of foreigners have a good grasp of Czech.

More than a third has an average grasp of Czech, and roughly a fifth can speak Czech poorly or not at all.

Migrants with very good Czech language skills are best integrated. They have good jobs, informal relationships with the majority, and a good overview of their possibilities. People with a lower level of language are more often confronted with difficulties, are less well informed and do not use many services for foreigners.

Most respondents are aware of public services provided by, for example, the Prague Integration Center and other non-profit organizations working with immigrant workers.

Most immigrants whose children attend schools in the Czech Republic have a positive experience. However, roughly one-fifth of them experience a language barrier in communicating with the school. Although some foreigners have little leisure time, their children often participate in group activities in their spare time, which significantly contributes to their integration into Czech society.

Almost three-quarters of migrants addressed in the research want to stay in the Czech Republic and plan their future here.

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