Polish Worker Costs will Rise

Posted on: 01.05.2011    12:51:21

With Germany opening it’s borders to Polish Workers from today the subject is well covered in an article in the Telegraph but there are knock on consequences to be considered.

Our understanding is that German employers are reluctant to take Polish workers without language skills and this places a natural limitation on the degree of movement but of course the more able linguistically will be gobbled up quickly, especially if they have an in demand trade skills. Trade skills shortages tend to transcend national borders.

Despite the UK’s economic woes Polish Workers with engineering, fabrication, and welding skills remain in demand but British companies are beginning to cough and splutter about the rates as international competition raises the international wage bill.

in certain sectors such as top end Engineering or the Care Sector the flow of Polish Workers has slowed to a trickle owing to costs. Why would a nurse come to the UK to earn £13 an hour when they could take those skills to Australia and get £20+ a hour or if they happen to speak German, to Switzerland and get nearer £30 an hour? Working in Australia is today’s favourite subject in international recruitment but even they are being outbid in certain sectors such as oil and gas by the Norwegians.

Competition will increase further – the Middle East is just beginning to rumble. The first step will be replacement of those that have left and you have to question the “risk” premium that will be required to pull people back let alone get new top end skills in place.

Japan, which has extensive off shore oil and gas investments will be desperate to raise levels in the wake of the nuclear disaster and this gives a general boost to renewables and reclamation worldwide where escalating demand is not met by available talent.

Barriers to entry, some real, some imagined will have to be lowered to allow talent to flow but it is a worldwide market place but some successful companies could easily be looking at 20% wage bill inflation for critical resources if that is the international market rate.

A classic case in point is Engineering in the UK. Very traditional, slow to recognise change , an ageing work force, the education system is not producing the skills required and under investment in training and apprenticeships – a recipe for failure. All these factors are in place – the result a skills shortage to which the market place is only just beginning to react. The position will get worse before it gets better but employers are largely sat on their hands rather than looking at solutions. The Germans have had Poles in training for months in preparation for today. What have the Brits done, very little.

When it comes to transferable labour skills and recruitment we now need raise our heads and to think internationally when looking to plug skills shortages, the global village makes the world a very small place.


Author: Chris Slay

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