The number of UK employers taking on staff from EU accession countries has almost doubled in the past 12 months.
The number of businesses turning to former Communist Eastern European states to meet their recruitment needs rose from 7% in 2005 to 12% this year, according to research by recruitment firm Manpower.
The survey of more than 2,000 companies found the proportion of employers taking on accession state workers had the most dramatic growth in Scotland (which has risen to 16% from 3% in 2005) and the East of England (which has risen to 24% from 11% in 2005).
The report, which marks the second anniversary of 10 new states joining the EU, shows that a wide range of sectors are increasingly looking abroad to fill vacancies.
Companies in the hotel and restaurant sector are the most likely to employ staff from the new member states, with more than one in four (28%) taking on workers in the past 12 months.
Employers in construction (12%), agriculture (11%), finance and business services (11%) and manufacturing (11%) are the next most likely to recruit staff from EU accession states.
Mark Cahill, managing director of Manpower UK, said: “Many employers realise that these workers can play a valuable role in helping them address their recruitment needs – particularly in the face of the UK’s persistent skills shortage,” he said.
The figures highlight a marked change in employer attitudes to the 345,000 migrants from Eastern and Central Europe who have registered in the UK since May 2004. A study by the Institute for Employment Studies in 2004 found most employers would not even consider taking on migrant workers because the public perception towards them was so negative.
For more on the changing attitudes towards migrant staff click here