Professional Poles filling UK skill gaps

2006

It isn't just an army of plumbers, electricians and builders who have migrated from Poland to work the length and breadth of the UK. A growing number of Polish professionals such as accountants are now filling the ranks of the British workforce.

New research from recruiter Joslin Rowe shows that the number of Polish accountants registering for work in the UK has risen sixfold since 2003 (the last full year before Poland joined the European Union in May 2004).

In the first two years of Poland's EU membership, 270,000 Poles registered to work in the UK, with 60,000 registering in London. But with many more having arrived without registering and many being self-employed, it is estimated that the true number of Poles in the UK could be upwards of 400,000.

Of these that registered in London, Joslin Rowe's figures show that 3,425 of these were accountants, almost six per cent of the total.

"There is a chronic shortage of qualified accountants in the UK. British firms are crying out for staff," said Tara Ricks, Managing Director of Joslin Rowe Associates

"The introduction of International Accounting Standards, an increasing burden of regulation, and a rising emphasis on corporate governance have boosted demand dramatically and pushed salaries up accordingly," she added.

"We simply don't have enough home grown accountants to fill the void and this is creating opportunities for those from overseas. Scotland has taken a bit longer to catch on to the Eastern European trend, but we think that it will follow London's lead."

In the twelve months to the end of August 2006, there were new 32,150 accountancy jobs advertised in UK financial services. The figures suggest that Poles secured around three per cent of these jobs, double the proportion in the previous twelve months and growing.

It is a similar story in the Republic of Ireland, where the number of new Polish accountants has risen 190 per cent compared to 2005 and from almost zero in 2004. Although the overall numbers are naturally smaller than the UK, proportionately, Poles are twice as successful in Ireland at finding accountancy jobs than they are in the UK.

Tara Ricks added that while Polish accountants are still a relatively new phenomenon, some adopters have already started hiring them enthusiastically.

"We have seen this before with successive waves from the Anglosphere – initially Australians, then New Zealanders and most recently South Africans. After a slow start, these groups are now in high demand.

"Although Poles have to vault the language barrier, the introduction of International Accounting Standards is making the move to Britain much easier for them. Just like other foreign groups before them, Poles will become a key support to the UK accounting profession."

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