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Are Polish Workers Getting Greedy?

The government’s cap on migration to Britain from outside the European Union is being more than offset by a renewed rise in migration of Polish workers and migrant workers from other Eastern European countries.

British employers are increasingly turning to EU migrants to fill the gaps left by the government’s clampdown on the recruitment of overseas skilled labour from outside Europe but the pattern of recruitment is changing.

The latest annual statistics show that net inward migration – which Conservative ministers have pledged to reduce to below 100,000 by the general election – actually rose by 21% during 2010, to 239,000.

The Office for National Statistics said fewer people were leaving Britain to live abroad and net migration from Eastern Europe was up – from 5,000 in 2009 to 40,000 in 2010. Emigration from the UK fell from a peak of 427,000 in 2008 to 336,000 last year.

Analysts at the Department for Work and Pensions said above-average unemployment rates in eurozone countries hit by the financial crisis, including Spain (20%), Lithuania (16%) and Latvia (16%), were behind increased migration to Britain. They also note that UK national insurance registrations from Ireland rose by 56% in 2010/11.

The return of Polish workers to Britain is also confirmed by the latest figures. The Polish community now numbers 555,000, larger than the Irish (353,000) and the Indian (327,000) communities. However, according to specialist recruiter Skills Provision the pattern of recruitment is changing in that most recent recruits from Poland are skilled workers such as welders, fabricators, CNC operators, bench joiners etc rather than the pickers and packers. Wage rates are also rising and Polish workers in particular are in danger of pricing themselves out of the UK market.

Chris Slay , Skills MD admitted that his company was looking more in Latvia and Lithuania than in the past as the Poles demand ever higher pay rates. He doesn’t think of them as being greedy but just taking advantage of the global market. “Last month we lost a couple of welders who we were paying £8 an hour who went to Germany for £11 an hour – and wouldn’t you do the same?, he said.

As recruiters you need to keep on top of what is happening not only in the UK or the European union but around the globe and international migration  is now common place.

There are always solutions to fill the gaps caused by skills shortages it just takes bit of imagination and hard work.


Author – Chris Slay

Skills Provision will allow our articles/quotes to be reproduced on other formats as long as full accreditation is given.