Will Polish Workers Leave the UK?

Posted on: 03.01.2011    13:08:14

A mixed picture is emerging of the intention of Polish workers in 2011 as circumstances change throughout the EU and other countries with skills shortages.

Emigration has been used by Poland for centuries to try and balance the supply of people against weak domestic demand.

The domestic situation is being skewed by the building demand associated with the European football championships that Poland is co-hosting in 2012 but other than this the “grass is greener” back at home was largely undone in 2010 where many people returning to Poland could not find jobs and decided to leave again.

In 2010 the preferred countries were Norway, Holland and the UK but the market mix changed with a greater emphasis on filling skills shortages in areas such as care, welders, fabricators and bench joiners rather than the unskilled pickers and packers but the position is likely to change in 2011.

Competition will be greater from within the EU especially from Greek, Irish , Portuguese and Spanish citizens who are looking further afield for job opportunities owing to high unemployment and austerity measures at home but only those with skills are likely to succeed. With Germany and France making it easier for other EU nationals to work in the respective countries from April opportunities within stronger economies with closer physical proximity will erode demand to come to the UK.

Also in view is the different attitudes and commitment to Polish workers. For instance Norwegian employers pay better, subsidize accommodation and travel, invest in training so it is no surprise they remain the country of choice for Polish workers.

Interestingly, the Germans are embracing training schemes in early 2011 in preparation for the opening of the market in April.

However, the British market remains aloof despite half the market claiming that skills shortages are the greatest challenge to be faced in 2011. It is surprising how few businesses follow a proper planning process when looking for talent and remove their ability to make informed employment decisions by failing to plan. Amazingly 86% of British employers have inadequate job descriptions the fundamental tool to successful recruitment.

So the likely outcome in 2011 for Polish Worker demand is likely to remain concentrated on the skilled trade sector but the supply which was tight in 2010 is likely to tighten further as competition increases. After all a welder in Bergen, Berlin or Birmingham is still a welder but if you are paid £18, £14, or £10 an hour for the same work you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out in which country Polish workers will opt to ply their trade. Do not be surprised to see skilled foreign workers leaving the UK for places as far afield as Australia, Canada, Germany and Norway in 2011 as free market forces come to impact on the UK

As we will need these skills the impact of competition will be inflationary.

If your business plan involves a demand for more workers you need to plan well in advance and ensure your job descriptions are up to date.


Author: Chris Slay

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