Sunday, November 9, 2008

Back home...

When the European Union was expanded in 2004, several of those new members were Eastern bloc countries, enthusiastic about membership for the benefit of their economies. However, it was probably not anticipated that this would lead to rapid creation of huge numbers of new expats, perhaps more accurately described as economic migrants. Yes, those countries experienced a mass exodus of skilled workers seeking employment and a new life in wealthier EU countries - and we soon saw, despite fears of the "Polish plumber" taking work away from citizens of the host countries, these workers quickly gain reputations as hard-working, skilled people, making a valuable economic contribution.

Taking as an example the much quoted Polish workers, by happy coincidence we are seeing the Polish community in Britain celebrate this week the 90th anniversary of Polish independence! Apparently the post-war Polish community in the UK had dwindled to about 60,000 by the turn of the century but following the EU enlargement in 2004 that rapidly swelled to about 400,000 people!

Well, only last week we were speculating here as to how the credit crunch might impact on expats, so it is interesting to read reports now that receding job opportunities and fears of UK recession are already seeing Eastern European expats rapidly repatriating themselves - in many cases returning with the benefit of having enhanced their careers with overseas experience and to home countries that are not experiencing the same extent of economic crisis and are actually in need of those skills. Excellent to hear some positive news in the midst of all the gloom!

For those of us Brits stranded on foreign shores, whatever our circumstances may be perhaps we should pay attention to this and not be tempted to go rushing back to Blighty just yet...

Photo: Aleksandar Momirovic


Janet said...

I think this is a global phenomenon. Thousands of Mexican immigrants here in the US are going back home as well. In many cases, after having made their money (probably tax-free) in US dollars, they can go back home and live better than they can here.


Jerry Adams said...

The "Polish plumbers" who are legging it at the moment, will come back as soon as the crisis is over. Those who have decided to settle down in the UK, or any other country for that matter, will simply tighten their belts a bit and wait through the hard times.

I'm a Polish expat myself, although not one of the "economic migrants". I decided to try something new a few years before the whole 2004 exodus for the sheer pleasure of trying something new (I was earning more in Poland). I don't really know the economic and social situation in the UK, but here new Poles keep coming every week looking for jobs.