Poland’s Chances to Recruit Ukrainians are Dropping

Anita Błaszczak in Rzeczpospolita writes…

This is the last bell to struggle over for workers from Ukraine, who are already being recruited by the Germans. They are also being picked off by the Czechs and Slovaks, who are luring them with higher salary and a two year contract.

Already now, the Czechs are taking increasingly more Ukrainian workers from us, and soon the time will come for Germany, where a large part of professionals can leave, warns Marian Przeździecki, director of the Ukrainian branch of the “Work Service” employment agency. He says, despite huge demand from domestic companies, it is increasingly difficult to make work in Poland attractive for Ukrainians.

First, staff shortages are growing in Ukraine, especially in Western regions. Second, this year competition for Ukrainian citizens has significantly increased from the Czechs and Slovaks, who have liberalised entry procedures. This was confirmed by other agencies that specialise in recruiting Ukrainians. Krzysztof Inglot, head of Personnel Service, which already has three companies in Ukraine, admits that this year Czech and Slovakian companies are recruiting on a much larger scale than before.

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60% of Ukrainians think of work abroad; 26% want to work in Poland for several years; 22% want to work in Poland permanently; Germany is the second most popular destination for Ukrainians after; Treatment of Ukrainian with insurance at ZUS has grown from 59.8 thousand in 2015 to 425 .7 thousand in 2018; 3.2 million Ukrainians work abroad.

CZECH OFFENSIVE

Michał Wierzchowski, is director of the employment agency EWL, which this year wants to bring over 15 thousand employees from Ukraine. Recently, the company also opened an office in Prague, Czech Republic. It wants to take advantage of the boom of Ukrainian employees there. [He says:]

“Despite the announcement of liberalisation of procedures for Ukrainians, nothing is happening. We are standing still, while other countries are beginning to open to them.”

In the Czech Republic where salaries are one third higher than in Poland (and in automotive industry even 50%), Ukrainians can now easily obtain a visa for 90 days, and then an employer can employ them on a 24-month work card, which is part of a government programme “Režim Ukrajina” (see here at Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The card pool has been doubled to 20 thousand this year. Next year it should be doubled as well.

Although, Ukrainians have to wait up to a year for such a long term visa (just like it is with work permits in Poland). However, a system of “informal accelerations” can shorten the procedure to 2-3 months. In addition, after one year you can bring your family to the Czech Republic.

Czech Minister of Labor and Social Policy Jaroslava Němcová has visited Ukraine twice this year and during the last September visit announced the introduction of a fast administrative path for employees in selected occupations, including babysitters. Already now, Ukrainians can more easily get the right to a two-year stay in Slovakia, where wages are around 20 percent. higher than in Poland.

Competition from Germany can soon become a greater problem. Since January 2019, the labor market for non-EU labor migrants, including Ukraine, has been to open more widely. From January 2019, the labor market for non-EU labor migrants, including from Ukraine will be been open more widely.

NEEDED STABILISATION

Marian Przeździecki claims that Poland ceased to be the leader of openness to employees from Ukraine. He explains:

“We fell to the last place in the region. In addition, we lag behind competition in terms of pay, and the housing conditions of employees are often worse.” 

According to him, the main problem is in a limited, six months working time in Poland according to the simplified visa procedure for the so called permit. Declarations by the Ministry of the Family Labor and Social Policy that they will longer it to a year in autumn have not been implemented.

Marian Przeździecki says:

“If we do not do it, if we do not introduce facilitations that encourage permanent work and the settlement of workers from Ukraine,, we will soon lose them.”

He points out that the current system of statements supports the inflow of unskilled seasonal workers from the East, and discourages the arrival of specialists in Poland, who care for stable employment and settlement with their families.

Krzysztof Inglot says:

“We should extend the work to a license of up to 18 months and give Ukrainians incentives to work legally and bring families.”

As the head of Work Service in Ukraine says, Ukrainians or Belarusians seeking a long term residence in Poland do not have any preferences…

“They are treated the same as visitors from Bangladesh or Nepal, even though they (the Ukrainians) are culturally close to us and they adapt fast. If they could live in Poland for longer with their families, they would be more motivated to increase their qualifications. They would not change work so often from 1 or 2 zlotys of hourly rate increase, which has become a nightmare for companies, particularly in construction.” 

OPINION

JACEK PIECHOTA, president of the Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce

Our advantage in competition for employees from Ukraine is geographical and cultural proximity, and the fact that many [Ukrainians] are familiar with living conditions in Poland.Despite this, competition from countries where wages are higher is a real threat. Despite this, competition from countries where wages are higher is a real threat. In addition, our country’s migration policy is not very clear, the waiting time for residence and work permits is not being shortened, and some politicians combine labor migration with the migration threat. An open government declaration is needed that Ukrainians are welcome in Poland. It is also worth showing positive examples of their employment and integration, which we do in the social campaign “Partnership and employment”(„Partnerstwo i zatrudnienie”).

WORK AND SUPPORT THE ECONOMY

Transfers of money from Ukrainians working abroad has risen to $11.5 billion and is expected to increase in 2018 – estimates National Bank of Ukraine. Last year, Ukrainian migrants sent over $9.3 billion back to the country (about 9 percent of the GDP). As is estimated by the Ministry of Social Affairs of Ukraine, 3.2 million citizens of this country work continuously abroad, and another 9 million seasonally. A large part of both groups goes to Poland, where the number of employees from Ukraine is estimated at 1.8-2 million. As the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers warns, the outflow from the Polish labor market of even some of them (in a moderate variant – 500,000) may lower our GDP by 1.6%, which was 1/3 of its growth in the previous year. For several years, employers’ organizations and economists have appealed for a coherent Polish migration policy. It was not ready in summer and in autumn it was returned for inter-ministerial consultations. The ministry of investment and development explains:

“The migration policy touches upon many topics, and their reconciliation takes time.”

***

Earlier this website already wrote about the volumes of Ukrainian labour migration to the EU, about staff shortages in Western Ukraine, and about Ukraine rapidly losing her human capital.

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