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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Cab firm steps up EU workers hunt
Prague recruit
Pronunciation is part of the test for taxi drivers
A Plymouth-based taxi firm is expanding its training school in the Czech Republic to recruit European drivers.

Taxifast, which has more than 70 Czech drivers, says it cannot find enough English people to do the work.

The company is now training Polish and Slovakian recruits at its base in Prague to work in Plymouth, Exeter, Taunton and Yeovil.

Drivers, who take a four-week knowledge style test, are being seduced by wages often more than four times local rates.

The average salary ... is about 200 a month, but in Plymouth I will have 400 to 500 a week
Ondrej Sokol

Taxifast says local workers are put off by unsociable working hours and has been recruiting in Prague for the last two years.

Derek Merry, Taxifast's head of European recruitment, said: "We find it difficult to reach the numbers of drivers we require in Plymouth.

"Now that Prague's economy is booming, the firm is looking to Poland and Slovakia."

The firm is now expanding and recruiting drivers for other firms in towns and cities, including Swindon, Newcastle and Inverness.

University graduate Ondrej Sokol, 25, from Slovakia, said: "The average salary in my part of Slovakia is about 200 a month, but in Plymouth I will have 400 to 500 a week left after deductions."

Tucked away in a tiny corner of Prague, the would-be taxi drivers are tested on the Plymouth knowledge.

Strict rules are enforced including hygiene, dress and hairstyle and they are vetted for previous convictions.

After they leave the training centre in Prague, they will complete another five weeks training in Plymouth before starting work.

Although all recruits have to be English speakers, pronunciation can be a problem, especially when drivers have not been to the UK.


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