Building and Buying Talent

Education continues to be a hot topic of debate as digitization, a changing job market, and evolving class dynamics change the landscape of employment for young people. An aging population in much of the Western world has exacerbated the skilled worker shortage. Companies requiring skilled workers must therefore be creative in their employee acquisition, retention, and development. Continuing education is crucial among the full timeline of an employee’s term in their job position.

Long pre-employment training is showcased by companies like Air France and Skoda. In the Air France case, the company has “in recent months announced plans to launch so-called “ab initio” programs, in which airlines pay for training pilots, then hire them,” in order to combat the global pilot shortage (Goh, 2018). At a reasonable tuition rate, Skoda University offers traditional Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. While employment with Skoda after the degree program is not mandatory, many students naturally work with Skoda afterwards. Naturally, Skoda encourages this to improve their return on investment for the program. Internships are one important component of the programs, which bring the students closer to Skoda. The internships “are an integral part of Bachelor’s study programs. Internships take place in the fifth semester of studies, mostly within Skoda Auto company or other partner companies of the school in the Czech Republic or abroad and is a compulsory part of the study programme,” (Professional Internship).

I had the recent opportunity to visit Skoda University, in Mlada Boleslav, to learn about the Skoda Auto company and get a glimpse into their pre-employment training practices. Founded in 2000, Skoda University is the only company university in the Czech Republic. The Skoda University webpage highlights the following (About US):

  • Modern facilities
  • Graduate employability
  • Relevant internships
  • Exchange studies abroad
  • High quality pedagogical staff
  • Individual approach to students
  • Complex and modern study programme
  • High quality and extensive foreign language tuition
  • Participation of Skoda Auto experts in the study programmes
  • Motivational programmes for gifted students

While these characteristics are hard to observe without actual enrollment in the Skoda University program, it certainly seems like the facilities and people at Skoda University live up to this description.

The Czech Republic has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world, so it is beneficial to make these substantial investments in talent acquisition. This, in fact, was a recurrent theme among conversations with Czech executives in a variety of companies. While the European Union is generally facing a labor shortage, in the Czech Republic it is particularly bad. In August 2018, the unemployment rate was 2.5% (Unemployment by sex and age, 2018). This rate is believed to be very close to the natural unemployment rate. Without locals or skilled migrants to fill the ranks, the economy is certainly underneath its full potential.


Goh, B. (2018, February 09). Airlines, flight schools try to lure pilots with cheaper - or free… Retrieved from

Unemployment by sex and age - monthly average. (2018, October 18). Retrieved from

Skoda Auto. (n.d.). About US. Retrieved from

Skoda Auto. (n.d.). Professional Internship. Retrieved from