A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Speaking of labor mobility

Chicago Tribune:
Each month, Poland loses about 30,000 workers, many of them young and well-educated, to Britain, Ireland and Sweden. The three countries were the only members of the European Union that did not impose restrictions on immigration from the 10 new member states when the EU expanded in 2004.

Instead of flooding the market with "Polish plumbers,"--the European catchphrase for cheap, low-skilled immigrant labor--the tide of migration from Eastern Europe has fueled economic growth in Britain and Ireland. The unemployment rate in Ireland, already the lowest in the EU at 4.2 percent, dropped a further 0.2 percent with the arrival of 160,000 Eastern European workers over the last 20 months.

So, Poland is experiencing a brain-drain. But it might not be so bad. After all, the skills of the highly-trained programmers and computer technicians heading out of Poland are next to useless here - at least this gives them the chance to earn a bit more money, maybe sending some back to Poland. Who knows, maybe they'll return to Poland and start up a business in 10 or 20 years.

On the other hand, when it comes to doctors, Poland needs all the good ones it can get. But can we blame them for going to the UK when here they have to take on a second job to make ends meet?


Anonymous varske said...

"Instead of flooding the market with "Polish plumbers,"--the European catchphrase for cheap, low-skilled immigrant labor-"

You obviously never employed a plumber in Britain. They certainly aren't as cheap as a Polish plumber, but when it comes to low skills, I would rather have a Polish plumber any day. At least they had some sort of training, and can read and write.

A recent article I read said the Poles had taken over the punting business in Cambridge because they were better at it, worked harder and were more polite. For those who don't know, "punting" means "poling" a flat boat along the river for some lazy tourists, rather like gondola boatmen in Venice. And yes, the article made the obvious joke.

5/13/2006 10:29:00 PM  

Blogger Gustav said...

Who is your "you" addressed to Varske? The author I hope.

It's true I never empolyed a British plumber, but living here in Poland over the past 5 or so years, I have indeed hired a Polish one.

He ripped me off (apparently, I had no idea until my landlady told me), probably because he thought I was a rich foreigner (by his standards I AM a rich foreigner).

Still, by comparing his price to what one normally pays in the states, I thought I got off pretty well at the time. So not so bad. And my shower's fixed. :)

5/31/2006 10:11:00 PM  

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