Polish Workers Role is Changing, as are Attitudes!

Posted on: 04.12.2011    10:03:27

As an international recruitment agency we come across Polish workers in our day to day activities around the world but the roles they fulfill are changing as the Poles are ever adaptable migrants that, chameleon like, will morph into the needs of the economy wherever they are in the world.

Poles have migrated for hundreds of years and have always figured in the plans of any international recruitment agency but here are a few illustrations of how the use of Polish labour has changed over the years:

  • The USA has been by far the biggest market, when migration was easier, and before the green card became mandatory.Levels are lower at present due to America’s own problems but as the USA is now facing a skills shortage itself we expect this to pick up again in the next 5 years as the need to replace retiring baby boomers accelerates.
  • In the UK there are certain sections of the economy that would grind to a halt without Polish workers – food processing, care industry warehousing and hospitality to name but a few but we are now seeing a shift up market to higher skilled trade positions like welders and bench joiners as well as CNC operators and middle management positions in engineering. The downside is we are also seeing an increase in benefit tourism owing to overarching European legislation and the Poles are not slow in picking up bad British habits of being unreliable now that they can access generous support systems and this is leading to friction between the migrant work force and the locals
  • Elsewhere in Europe Eastern European workers figure highly. Norway is the destination of choice as they treat Polish workers very well. The Dutch know how to play the system but the Germans have failed to appreciate the full benefits on the Polish workers and tend to be a little patronising. We have had Polish workers chase the money in Germany only to return to the UK as the reality of the offer was not the one they had imagined it to be.
  • We have been advising Australian clients to tap into the Eastern European market to alleviate natural resource worker skills shortages and this has just started to happen and is set to continue as Australia has more skills gaps to fill than the average colander has holes. It is likely we will be sending Lamb butchers from either Ireland or Eastern Europe to Australia in the first quarter of 2012 as another example.
  • New Zealand now wants 20,000 construction workers to help with the rebuild around Christchurch. We should anticipate the sound of Polish accents as they simply won’t get them  from the UK where they are looking at present.
  • We are currently working on a deal that could see us send a contracted workforce to India to work on a technical Installation where external expertise is required, something that came as a total surprise to us.

So the role of Polish workers is changing as are their attitudes. Gone are they days of Polish recruitment where you got people with two degrees working on a packing line for minimum wage. Polish workers today represent alternative labour, rather than cheaper labour but with commitment and flexibility built in unless they have been corrupted by the society in which they are living. Properly managed a Polish contracted workforce will take some beating but it needs to be more actively managed than in years gone by but our techniques have developed with the passage of time.


Author: Chris Slay

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