12.10.2021 change 12.10.2021

Thirty-fold increase in work permits for foreigners since 2004, say Gdańsk researchers

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Poland gave out over 400,000 work permits for foreigners in 2020, 10 times more than in 2010 and 30 times more than in 2004 when Poland joined the European Union.

The most numerous group of economic immigrants in Poland are Ukrainians, and the number of employees from Uzbekistan has increased the most since 2004, summarise scientists from the Gdańsk University of Technology.

The number of foreigners on the Polish labour market is growing, but at a varying pace, depending on the country of origin, according to analyses conducted by Dr. Małgorzata Gawrycka and Dr. Krystyna Gomółka from the Faculty of Management and Economics of the Gdańsk University of Technology.

The largest group of economic immigrants in Poland are Ukrainians. According to Statistics Poland, in 2020 they received 295,000 work permits, over 20 times more than in 2010.

Dr. Gomółka said: “Ukrainians living in Zaporizhzhia can choose to work in Russia, several hundred kilometres away, and earn more than in their homeland. But they prefer to travel about 1,500 kilometres to Poland and work here, because this means not only much higher wages, impossible to achieve, for example, in Russia or other countries of the former USSR, but also improved overall comfort and quality of life.”

The other minorities that received the most work permits were Belarusians (27,000 permits), Georgians (8,000) and Moldovans (7,600).

According to the experts, Poland has recently become the primary destination for economic migration for Belarusians. “In a survey conducted by the Centre for Eastern Studies, we have overtaken Russia and most Western European countries in this respect, in part due to the lack of economic stagnation and a positive attitude after the 2020 political crisis in Belarus. Currently, Belarusians most often work in Poland as qualified workers or in simple jobs,” the authors of the report said. 

The number of workers from Uzbekistan has increased the most since 2004, from five to nearly 6,000. On the other hand, citizens of the Baltic countries move to Poland much less frequently.

Dr. Małgorzata Gawrycka said: “Workers from the east are different than 10 years ago. Previously, they were more likely to come for a period of 3 to 6 months, now most people stay in Poland for 6 months to 2 years. It is necessary to introduce further facilitations for their stay and take into account the qualifications of migrants, which will help to fill the shortages on the labour market.”

Immigrants from the east fill the gaps in the Polish labour market in various ways. Most of them find employment in the construction industry. A large group are warehouse workers, but also mechanics, beauticians, drivers and households helpers. The situation is different in the case of Russians, who rarely become workers. They most often find jobs in the service sector, but in management rather than regular employees. Many of them are computer scientists and artists. (PAP)

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