Polish skills gap widens as workers flee homeland to earn big bucks in UK

The influx of Polish immigrants into the UK is leading to a rapidly growing shortage of skilled workers in Poland, international research has found.

According to business adviser Grant Thornton’s International Business Report the number of businesses citing the lack of a skilled workforce as a barrier to growth in Poland increased from 28% to 43% between 2004 and 2007.

In a similar period, between May 2004 and December 2006, an estimated 375,000 Poles registered to work in the UK, excluding the self-employed.

However, this has not resulted in any visible easing of skill shortages within the UK, according to the report, which covers 7,200 employers in 32 countries. The number of companies citing the lack of a skilled workforce as a barrier to growth has remained steady, growing 1% between 2004 and 2007 (from 31% to 32%).

Alysoun Stewart, head of Grant Thornton’s strategic services group, said: “Necessity has encouraged UK companies to look outside the traditional employment channels and to tap into new skills pools. With the skills shortage problem this process is set to continue.

“However, there is evidence to suggest that many of the Eastern European immigrants may be targeting lower skilled jobs in the UK than their level of qualification at home would merit simply to get a foothold in the job market here.”

According to the government’s Accession Monitoring Report, which measures the impact of EU workers in the UK, migrants were helping to fill the gaps in the UK labour market, particularly in administration, business and management, hospitality and catering, agriculture, manufacturing and food, fish and meat processing.

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