There is a shortage of up to 20,000 tractor drivers, milkers, and feeders in Czech agriculture. The main reason for this is the retirement of workers who are not being replaced by the younger generation.
Jaroslav Chýla, a tractor driver, should have been retired for ten years, but instead, like his colleagues, he is still working. He believes the idea of low earnings is to blame for the lack of young replacements.
“The money is quite below. Tractors are modern, and they have air-conditioners. But, of course, it requires more hours of work, ” Chýla says, adding that the boss should finally hire someone new.
Yet, the chairman of the agricultural cooperative in Nečín, Jan Koukolíček, has been unable to do anything about the shortage of tractor drivers for years. When young blood arrives at the cooperative, he breaks his grip on farming after a few years.
The shortage of new tractor drivers is not only a problem in Nečín. In agriculture, a fifth of the workforce is missing. According to the Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic, the average age of agricultural workers is around 50.
“It’s dirty and smelly work,” says one of the young men interviewed. “Our interests are a bit different. We prefer to work in the service sector. I want to be an economist, ” adds another. “What would attract you to it? Well, maybe taking care of cattle or driving a combine harvester, ” one of the respondents looks for positives.
On the other hand, there is a shortage of milkers and milkmaids in the cowsheds, most often replaced with help from abroad. “We have two employees from Ukraine. We are happy for them. They are skilled, ” says Koukolíček. The education system’s approach could change the unfavorable outlook. Young children have been going on more field trips to cooperatives and fields as part of their education.