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Is British best or are the Poles apart?

03 May 2007
Is British best or are the Poles apart?

Debbie Radage, sales and marketing manager of City Catering, looks at why many British employers hire foreigners over home-grown staff

A huge debate has been rumbling over the last few years about the influx of eastern European workers into Britain. And the arguments are only getting louder as last year saw a 20,000 increase in migrant workers, totalling 232,000 people arriving here in search of work.

With such figures, the question that has to be asked is, why are employers choosing non-Brits to fill their vacancies?

In the catering industry many Poles are chosen for their work ethic, and it can't be denied that their approach to employment is vastly different from the British, and favoured by recruiters.

Poles I've spoken to put this down to the nation's history and upbringing when unemployment rates were up to 30% and as children they were expected to help keep the house clean.

Whether we like it or not, there's some truth in this. From experience, foreign workers do have a tendency to work harder and twice as long as many Brits, but this is not to say that British workers are any less capable then their foreign counterparts.

The view that foreign workers have more to offer is controversial but is echoed by many employers who have taken on a migrant worker. It's also a point vehemently denied by those concerned that the Poles are saturating the British workforce and taking jobs meant for British people.

Many of our own students feel that people who come to this country for a better standard of living should not be able to do so at the expense of the British worker. It might sound drastic, but do we need to take care of our own before we spread our generosity to foreigners?

However, foreign workers do also pay taxes and put money back into the economy - so it may yet be seen as a win-win for everyone.

But who knows what will happen in a few years' time, when, as expected, 80% of the migrants who are currently in the UK return home to their own countries, taking their skills with them.

We can only wait and see.

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