Who will replace Ukrainian men on the Polish labour market?

The Polish labour market has been undergoing dynamic changes in the last two years. Barely recovered after the hardships of the pandemics, it is already struggling with the consequences of the Russia’s armed attack on Ukraine. The conflict brought about an influx of substantial number of women from Ukraine, for whom there are not enough jobs on the market. In turn, employers are already facing staff shortages when it comes to professions performed mostly by men. Consequently, there is a growing interest among employers in workers from other countries such as Moldova, Georgia, and Kazakhstan.

According to the latest data published by the Border Guard, more than 2.8 million Ukrainian citizens have crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border since the beginning of the war. These are mainly women with children and the elderly, as men aged 18-60 are not allowed to leave the Ukrainian territory. At the same time, more than 800,000 people left Poland for Ukraine; in the initial phase of the conflict, these were mostly men who returned to defend their homeland. These developments mean substantial changes for the Polish labour market.


Which branches are suffering from a shortage of men?

"Currently, there is a large structural mismatch between employees and vacancies on the Polish labour market. The influx of people from Ukraine will certainly help to fill the staffing gaps in predominantly women-industries. It must be remembered, though, that while the “special act” makes it easier to take up employment, the issue of childcare remains unsolved: women cannot share this duty with their partner and, consequently, they are less flexible for the labour market. Also, the number of job offers for women, especially those with low qualifications, is much lower than the demand for these positions. On the other hand, there are considerable staff shortages for occupations requiring more physical strength or special qualifications. Although the so-called high season has not yet started, many industries are already suffering from a shortage of workforce"
- says Tomasz Dudek, Managing Director of OTTO Work Force Central Europe.

The data published recently by the Central Statistical Office (GUS) show that at the end of last year, the largest number of vacancies was in manufacturing (32.6 thousand) - almost a quarter of the total 137.4 thousand job openings in companies. The second highest number of vacancies last year was in construction (22,000). Now, when thousands of Ukrainians working in Poland left to defend their homeland, there are even more vacant posts. As these jobs require certain physical strength it would be difficult for Ukrainian women to do them.


Men from Georgia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan to support the Polish labour market

Tomasz Dudek, Managing Director of OTTO Work Force Central Europe: “Manufacturing, construction and logistic branches are suffering the most from staff shortages and worrying about business continuity. Unfortunately, with the beginning of the so-called high season in temporary work, these staffing deficits will only grow. Therefore, employers should already be looking for answers to the question of who to replace Ukrainian workers with, and they should open to candidates from other countries. Currently, an increasing number of companies has started to employ workers from Moldova, Georgia, and Kazakhstan via OTTO”.

Tomasz Dudek:

"We should keep in mind, though, that these are countries with smaller capacities that will not cover all of Poland's staffing needs. It is, therefore, necessary to diversify the market and reach out for workers from culturally more distant regions, such as Indonesia or Vietnam. This is, unfortunately, hampered by the long procedures of legalising stay and work in Poland, which can take up to 4-5 months. Yet, if we start these procedures early enough, we will be able to respond to the growing demand for staff on the Polish labour market".

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