Technical education is a key thread in the DNA of this country .
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The Czech Republic lies at a cultural intersection in Central Europe, becoming over the past two decades the main headquarters to a number of major European companies – and building an understated but ‘confident’ image as a good place to ‘do business’. Transition from former Soviet systems has been rapid and peaceful (though there are still fragments of the past visible in the hierarchal structure of businesses), the service sector is becoming larger and more prosperous – and ‘Industry’ remains key, with Czech companies perfectly placed to meet European (and particularly German) demand for high-quality and cost-competitive machinery and technology.
The main industries include Metallurgy, Machinery & Equipment, Chemicals, Glass and Armaments – but it’s the Motor Industry that really drives the Czech Economy. It accounts for 24% of Czech’s Manufacturing output – an astonishing performance that since 2010 has seen a country of little more than 10 million people produce over one million cars per annum, 80% of which are exported into international markets (World Factbook, 2013). Motor manufacturing feeds other parts of the industrial complex – including engineering, the chemical sector and plastic processing – as well as making Czech a desirable location for automotive R&D companies such as Bosch, Siemens, Ricardo and Swell.
This symbiotic relationship between the automotive sector and other parts of the economy isn’t the only win-win relationship to be discovered in this fascinating country. The the motor industry also drives the high level of technological education found in numerous colleges and universities across the Czech Republic. And this influence runs deep – right back to the start of a child’s secondary education, where a choice is made to attend a grammar school (concentrating mainly on academic subjects) or focus on a more vocational route, which include business academies and nursing schools, as well as engineering and technology-based colleges.
Simply put, technical education is a key thread in the DNA of this country – the Czech Republic held the second highest proportion of scientific and technological graduates in Europe in 2008. Skoda, the automotive manufacturer even has a ‘Skoda Auto University’ which specializes in business management, marketing management and corporate finance management. An abundance of these specialized universities produces a high quantity of technically educated graduates who can be employed much more cost-efficiently than graduates from ‘The West’ – once again fostering a self-perpetuating environment fueling the pipeline of many Manufacturing and R&D oriented companies.
The system sounds idiosyncratically ‘Czech’ yet it’s anything but insular – 10% of Czech’s 390,000 university students are ‘foreign’, drawn by the high standards of technology education, minimal tuition fees, comparatively low cost of living and high levels of employment. And the Czech people themselves are not resting on their laurels, with the most-recent Eurobarometer Survey finding that around 80% of Czech’s speak a second language, generally English or German.
Top Image Credit: Free CLip Art Site
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