What Connects the OECD and Mladá Boleslav? or My Experience from an Internship on Economic Migration

When I was filling in the application form for the database of the international organisation based in Paris this spring, I naturally tried not to let it slip that I speak French and I love working in an international environment. In the end I hardly used French during my four months working for the OECD, but I was able to participate in the carrying out of a project for the Czech government, which I would now like to share with you.

How does it happen that a Paris-based team of experts from all over the world is cooperating with the Czech government? At the beginning was a request from the Czech side, asking the European Commission for support. The Commission selected the OECD, as an expert in the field, to support the Czech government in research on the possibilities of managing economic migration in a better and more efficient way.

The first phase of the long-term project included interviews with Czech industry stakeholders as well as pre-briefings and subsequent international conferences with visa and immigration experts from around the world, which I attended during my internship. For example, we tried to find out how other relevant countries approach economic migration, where they are better at attracting talents, how long it takes them to process a priority visa application, how digitized and automated their system is, and how they control and/or punish potential abuse of foreign workers by their employees.

The OECD experience has impacted me both on a personal as well as on a professional level. The former because I come from Mladá Boleslav - a city that is alive with Škoda and literally depends on the influx of economic migrants of different skills and nationalities. I can see around me that how a points-based system (or any other instrument for regulating economic migration) is set up at the national level has an impact not only on the economy, but also on the lives of ordinary people in a medium-sized city like Boleslav.

On a professional level, the internship was a nice follow-up to my internship last year at the Visa Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, and showed me that migration is a phenomenon that needs to be better analysed and digitized. Important for me were the frequent conversations with my supervisor, where I never had to be afraid to ask or share anything I came across in my research - whether it was a special visa for innovators in the UK or something I was interested in, why the hospitality sector, and in particular restaurants with foreign cuisines where the employer itself has usually been through the immigration process, appears more often than other sectors on the public register of Australian employers sanctioned for exploiting foreign workers. Some problems, such as the last one mentioned, were explained on a psychological level. At other times, it was necessary to track down data in national and international databases, to calculate, or to think critically about the results of the analyses that a team from a Czech university prepared for us. It was the interdisciplinarity of the work, as well as the knowledge that I was engaged in teamwork in an international environment with a direct impact on the life in my country, that I enjoyed the most during my internship. So much so that, although having eight-hour working hours during the summer holidays was not always easy, after the internship ended, I started to miss the work, the team, and the topic of migration so much that I found courses on migration at university and am thinking about pursuing a similarly focused master's degree.

Although the internship was online, through the many online meetings, regular meetings and professional working environment I felt fully involved in the workings of the OECD, which I did go to Paris to see at the end of the internship. I would like to encourage all students looking for internships (or even jobs) not to be afraid to aim high in international organisations, because you never know if they are not just looking for a Czech speaker. We need representation in places where decisions are made directly or indirectly about things that affect us, even though you hardly read about projects like the one I worked on in the newspapers (and the little that I've revealed about it here is not secret, cf: https://ekonom.cz/c1-66963970-v-boji-o-priliv-mozku-prohravame-se-zapadem).


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