Poland is loosening its visa restrictions on workers from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia in order to ease a labor shortage in the farming and construction sectors, the Labor Ministry said Wednesday.
New rules go into effect this Friday, slashing the cost of work visas for citizens from the three former Soviet republics from 900 zlotys (US$330; €240) to 100 zlotys (US$37; €27), and easing bureaucratic restrictions, the deputy minister of labor, Kazimierz Kuberski, told the news agency PAP.
Under the new rules, workers would be granted three-month work visas upon presentation of a letter from a Polish employer.
"Because of the needs of Polish economy, we decided to open our job market in all sectors," Kuberski said.
Despite a jobless rate of about 13 percent, the European Union's highest, Poland is suffering a labor shortage that comes amid a booming economy desperate for construction workers.
The labor shortage has been exacerbated by the departure of hundreds of thousands of Poles to wealthier European Union countries for higher wages since the country joined the EU in 2004.
For a more comprehensive account of the situation in Poland I did a review and preview not too long ago over at my own blog. The main point is I think that while Poland's unemployment rate is still set in double digit territory the labour market is already suffering in key areas such as contruction. Furthermore, I would also guess that other sectors are lacking too. But where are all those Polish people going then? Well, it is of course difficult to give a comprehensive account but I can say that we are getting an awful lot of them in Denmark which is welcome news for our construction industry which indeed also is suffering from labour shortages but not, as it were, for the construction industry in Poland. The chart below gives a solid indication of the rise of the Poles in Denmark ...
Whether this surge signifies permanent placement is clearly an important question to answer but it is important to remember that if the economic situation in the home country deteriorates there could be a strong lock-in factor for the people who are living abroad to stay.