Forget the stereotype of the seasonal worker from Poland who travels to Norway every summer to pick strawberries. With Poland’s own economy on the rise, the country now is more likely to produce highly qualified workers who will opt to return home quickly.
Newspaper Aftenposten used three pages in one of its weekend editions to introduce Norwegian readers to “the new Poland” that’s evolving into a modern country with a strong economy. It was the only country in all of Europe last year to register growth, in the middle of the global finance crisis.
That has and will continue to have an impact on the Norwegian labour market, which for decades has relied on hard-working men and women from Poland willing to toil for lower wages than Norwegians’. The agricultural and construction industries have employed (some might say exploited) Polish workers for years.
People from Poland now make up Norway’s largest group of foreign workers, and some exploitation still exists, not least in the construction industry. In the future, though, it’s expected that far more workers from Poland will arrive in Norway armed with college degrees and qualified to work as engineers, artists and in the medical profession, for example.
“Poland is a country that’s developing itself so quickly,” Lukasz Jakubow-Kedzierski, who runs a Norwegian-Polish Internet portal, told Aftenposten. “Education levels are rising, the economy is growing and unemployment is falling.”
Many workers from Poland later bring their families to Norway and settle in the country, notes Jakubow-Kedzierski, who claims those who stay integrate quickly once they’ve learned Norwegian.
But he predicts increasing numbers will opt to return home where they’ll invest money earned in Norway. “Not a few companies in Poland have been started in recent years with money from Norway,” he said. “That’s really one of the best consequences of the Polish labour migration to Norway.”