A new report published by EastWestLink (EWL), the largest foreign manpower agency in Poland, has revealed that many Ukrainians currently working in temporarily in Poland want to stay in the country for good.
The report, Ukrainians on the Polish labour market – experiences, challenges and perspectives, is based on a survey carried out amongst 900 Ukrainians working in Poland, the largest group of whom were people aged 26-35 from western Ukraine.
While a third of those workers EWL spoke to admitted to not speaking any Polish, almost 75 per cent said that they were learning the language or intended to do so. Just under 20 per cent said that they did not need to know any Polish to perform their duties.
According to the report, 80 per cent of respondents chose to come to Poland due to the fact that earnings in Ukraine are low; only 20 per cent said that the reason for leaving Ukraine was due to the ongoing difficulties in the country and the tough economic climate. The average wage difference is enormous: 326 US dollars monthly in Ukraine compared to around 1,200 US dollars monthly in parts of Poland.
Half of those surveyed looked for work based on the recommendation of friends or acquaintances, while just 28 per cent benefited from using a job agency back home. Online searches for the best job offers were used by 25 per cent.
For most Ukrainians finding a job in Poland appears to be relatively easy. According to the survey, for about 57 per cent of those surveyed, it took no more than two weeks to find a job. Contrast that with only 16.5 per cent who were looking for work for over a month. In addition, over 50 per cent of respondents had a number of job offers to choose from.
“I consider the results of our research very important for the entire labour market in Poland,” said Andrzej Korkus, the president of EWL. “The time when our eastern neighbours seized the first good opportunity have passed. Currently, as the results of the survey show, Ukrainians are can choose from a wide range of job offers and positions, and while making a choice they are guided primarily by the level of salary and recommendations of friends. At the same time, over one third of respondents have no experience in working in the position for which they were employed.”
While 20 per cent of Ukrainians want to make Poland their home, 50 per cent of Ukrainians said that they are in the country on a short-term basis, and plan on working in Poland for three to six months.
According to the report, from those surveyed, the majority are willing to work more than ten hours a day (51.9 per cent), which is above the statutory mandate, and in addition to that over 74 per cent are willing to work on public holidays. Just over 40 per cent are also happy to work for the minimum wage.
Many Ukrainians want the Polish authorities to assist in adapting, such as offering language courses and subsidies for rent.
“Most of the interviewees expect the Polish authorities not to liberalise foreigner employment regulations, but to help them adapt and learn the Polish language. It is clear that Ukrainians expect a fishing rod, not fish,” added Mr Korkus.
Estimates of the number of Ukrainians working in Poland vary widely, from 500,000 to two million, depending on the source. Many work without the correct paperwork and do not appear in official figures. According to the Polish Foreign Ministry, Ukrainians sent home over 3.2 billion US dollars in 2017.