Transnational Meeting Zlín
Edited on03 December 2019
On the 3th and 4th of April 2019, Zlín in the Czech Republic hosted the second WIT transnational meeting. Home of Tomas Bata, entrepreneur and owner of the Bata Shoes company, the partnership tried to be in his shoes when talking about the issues Zlín faces with regard to Welcoming International Talents. By working hard and being motivated, the partnership addressed in particular the topic of amenities and services for international talents.
The Zlín Transnational meeting started in style: the partnership was greeted by mayor Korec and vice-mayor Francová at the Ceremonial Room at city-hall with a toast on the project and the cooperation. This shows the political support of the Zlín municipality to the project.
As with all transnational meetings in the Welcoming International Talent project, the first day was reserved to get to know the host-city and to give feedback on the transfer plans and the current state of welcoming policies.
Zlín has a very important heritage from the former city, when Tomas Bata started his conglomerate of businesses from Zlín. This heritage of social entrepreneurship is still tangible in Zlín: people are working hard, not only for their own benefit, but also to make life for all a bit better, Zlín is a very pleasant city to live or stay in. The economy is booming, which is also one of the problems: the local workforce is not growing but instead in decline, and the Tomas Bata University needs students from abroad to stay an attractive and healthy university. Especially on the lower educated sectors of the economy, Zlín needs workers from abroad.
There are some hurdles, however. Language is one of them: though English is now taught mandatory on primary and secondary schools, on average people are not very proficient in it and eager to use it. This also goes for the labor migrants in the more manual labor sectors, many of them are from the east of Europe, and don’t speak Czech or English.
Many initiatives are already in place. We learned about the Center of Support for Integration of Foreigners, we learned about CzechInvest who is attracting both companies and talents to Zlín, and of course we learned a lot about the University, which hosted the meetings.
Amenities & services for international talents
Thematically, the partnership looked at amenities and services for International Talent. How are the internationals getting medical services, housing, aid with formalities like visa or work permits, etc. many of the hurdles are rooted in the language problems: Czech is difficult for internationals, and English is not widely spoken, especially by the older generation.
One of the learning points was, that though a lot of services are already in place, they do not always transcend organizational borders. This has a lot to do with centralized systems of funding and organization, but it might also be a good idea to invest in local and regional cooperation, and work towards a commonly shared idea of the future of the city and region. What might superficially look like lack of services, could lead to a more strategic approach towards a shared responsibility for the future of the city, shared by the local and regional governments, shared by the businesses, by the university and by many more organizations, and of course, shared by those involved: the citizens and the internationals in Zlín.
Submitted by Evite van Winkoop on