The number of East European migrants heading to the UK next month has been
over-estimated and many will only remain in the country on a short-term basis,
academics have claimed.
Economic and employment experts say that UK industries such as hospitality,
IT and medical services may find more willing applicants to fill existing
vacancies when 10 more countries officially join the European Union in May –
but that many migrants are likely to stay for only a few years before taking
their skills and work experience back to their home countries.
Ten new member states from Eastern Europe will join the EU on 1 May enabling
people from countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Romania and the Czech Republic
to work in the UK.
Robin Chater, secretary-general of the Federation of European Employers
(FedEE), compared the situation facing accession countries to Ireland’s during
the 1970s and ’80s, when surplus graduates left to work in Germany, The
Netherlands and the US.
"Ireland was producing more graduates than the its economy could
accept. When the economy lifted, they came back, and have stimulated it so
considerably that Ireland is now the tiger economy of Europe," Chater
Similarly, Chater predicted that the "centre of [economic]
gravity" will move east in the future, in part because Eastern European
workers will take their work experience and new skills back home after a few
years of working elsewhere in the EU.
Research backs up Chater’s views. A study published last week by the
Estonian Employers’ Confederation reported that just 8 per cent of Estonian
workers aged 15 to 64 said they wanted permanent work abroad, compared to 75
per cent who said they wanted to work abroad temporarily or from time to time.
The Estonians’ preferred destination was Finland, followed by Germany and
then the UK. The report by the Praxis Centre for Policy Studies and the
University of Tartu said the desire to work abroad had actually dropped since
The largest numbers of immigrants seeking jobs in the UK will probably be from
Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, suggests Roger Vickerman, professor of
European economics at the University of Kent and a co-author of the report
Immigration, Labour Mobility and EU Enlargement.
Vickerman expects the numbers of immigrants generally to be "not large
– in the small tens of thousands". He anticipates that those seeking jobs
will know what they are looking for.
"They tend to go where there are jobs, where there’s growth in
employment and for jobs to which they are suited" he said.
The Migrant Worker Myth: www.personneltoday.com/goto/23199
By DeeDee Doke