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Finding Employment

Poland - Finding Employment


Poland is a model of political and economic stability. It is a republic with a multiparty democracy. In 2003 it joined the European Economic Area (EEA) and has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 2004. Whilst the country has a sizeable and growing internal market, and is the eighth largest economy in Europe, labour costs in Poland are about a third of that in nearby Germany.

As a result of these conditions foreign investment has been significant, from small businesses to large multinational companies.

Foreign business owners and managers require work permits to legally stay in Poland. For some, the process will be between 6-12 weeks and fairly straightforward if a lawyer or agency is assisting the applicant. It will not be less than 6 weeks because the company must advertise the job in order to prove that a foreign worker is essential in order to fill a vacancy. If you are taking on this process yourself, however, it may seem cumbersome and take several months. The first work permit only lasts for one year, and then the application begins again. However, the subsequent work visas will be valid for two years.

Unemployment in 2016 hit a 25 year low and then continued to fall further. Historically rates have been as high as 20% but it is now is roughly 8.5%. Youth employment has increased significantly and has dramatically affected the overall rate.

Unemployment is not evenly spread. The Mazowieckie Voivodeship has very low rates of unemployment whilst the Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship suffers from very high rates. The labour offices, which are part of the Public Employment Services, offer job seekers support with advice and workshops. The entitlement to unemployment benefits depends on the individual meeting strict criteria, and the amounts paid will be dependant on the individual’s work history and personal circumstances. The Public Employment Services are able to help with this.

Teaching jobs are widely available in Poland, but it is not usually the first country of destination most people look at. If you have a TEFL certificate or teaching qualification then your salary is likely to be slightly higher than the local average. Some language schools will offer less salary but free accommodation and health insurance. You would normally be expected to start in September, and stay for a minimum of one academic year. A normal working week in a full time job would be about 30 hours a week, though part time contracts are more likely to be offered to new arrivals.

Go abroad finds placements for students wishing to pay for a TEFL certificate course.

Poland’s main industries are centred around production: machine building, coal mining, iron, steel, chemicals, glass, textiles, shipbuilding and food processing. But this is not where most of the employment is. The service sector, which has rapidly increased over the past few years, now employs the majority of the Polish workforce.

Given the level of education most Polish people have received and the need for employers to demonstrate that a vacancy cannot be taken up by a Polish citizen, jobs for expats outside of teaching are not so easy to obtain. However, there are a number of key industries where any special skills you have may be of interest to potential employers.

Poland has a thriving financial industry dominated by banking. There are a small number of Polish state owned banks but most are privately owned. Foreign banks operating in Poland now hold about 60% of all assets. The conservative practices of banks in Poland meant the industry did not require the levels of government support and intervention needed elsewhere during the 2008 global financial crisis, and was the only EU country not to go into a recession at that time.

The recruitment agency Hays advertises its banking vacancies on its Polish website.

Both Polish oil companies and international oil companies operate in the country. These include BP Polska, which is Poland’s affiliate of the oil multinational company BP, and the Polish state-controlled firm Polskie Górnictwo Naftowe i Gazownictwo (PGNiG). The first oil well in the world was discovered at Bóbrka Field in 1853, and Poland became home to the world’s first oil refinery in 1854. There is little opposition from the public to oil fracking, but attempts to extract fuel in this way have yet to reach success.

A website called Oil and Gas Jobs lists a range of vacancies in the sector, including support and front line roles.

You may find Polish residents reserved and unsmiling if you do not know them. However, people will be happy to get to know you and it is important to be courteous, especially to work colleagues. If you are invited to someone’s house, shake hands. Hugging and kissing is only for very close friends and relatives. As flowers are popular gifts for special occasions, you may wish to take some as a gift for your hosts. Usually casual clothing is suitable for social occasions, but do not appear at someone’s house looking scruffy. If you are joining new friends at dinner or the theatre, dress smartly.

When dining with others, say ‘smatchnago’ (bon appétit) before eating and ‘na zdrovye’ (cheers) before drinking.

When attending a meeting, dress smartly and take your business cards. If you have been in negotiations and a handshake is offered, it means “we have finished talking”. It cannot be read as “we have agreed a deal” as it would be in the UK or US.

If you are at a doorway, politeness means you will hold open the door for the other person while they go through.

Most of the population are Catholic and their religious views should be respected. When in church, take off your hat and make sure your shoulder and legs are covered.

The British Polish Chamber of Commerce is based in Warsaw. They organise a number of regular events and assist networking opportunities for local business people. They offer help to those seeking information about importing to and exporting from Poland.


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