Unemployment is dropping in Poland, falling from 13.3% to 12.6% but is accompanied by increased militancy demanding better pay and conditions and this is being seen in international markets where the Polish workers are now seeking parity with local workers but this is bound to fail.
Why would any employer pay Polish workers the same as local workers and then have on top all the language issues and social care aspects that have to be managed?
In the UK this has led to material outsourcing to specialist agencies to negotiate packages for groups of workers but Polish workers rates of pay are materially up on 2010 and very few will work for minimum wage and this trend will continue.
Although the number of low-skilled workers in Britain, born outside the UK have more than doubled since 2002 rising from just under 10% to 20% at the beginning of 2011 or two thirds of million people we now expect to see the numbers stabilise.
Since Poland joined the EU, over 1 million Polish workers have travelled to the UK and now 550,000 remain, many of whom have occupied low-skilled jobs.
Pay freezes, unemployment and job cuts have all played a part in the slowing of immigration to and the speeding of emigration from the UK as international competition hots up.
Germany is providing stern competition and has 400,000 Polish workers and it is believed the Netherlands will have 200,000 by the year end. Poles prefer countries where English is the second language but we must accept that they are economic migrants and will go for the best deal. Wouldn’t you?
There are increasing reports of problems with Polish workers with higher crime figures and those that are benefit tourists tapping into the UK’s generous social support systems that have become even more accessible since the 1 May 2011.
We expect to see a drop in the number of unskilled Poles coming to the UK as British employers love affair with Polish workers has been strained as Poles pick up bad British habits. We do expect a smaller increase in the numbers of well-educated Polish tradesmen with required skills like welding and fabrication or engineering being sourced to cover skills shortages in particular sectors. Areas like health care, already under the cosh financially, will need to up pay rates by 10% to get Polish care workers interested in working in the UK. Skills gaps will remain until the pay rate issue is tackled.
Poles prefer city life with 1 in 4 living in London, while the remaining 75% are more evenly dispersed throughout the UK but there is resistance to working in really rural areas.
Author: Chris Slay
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