“Over 70 per cent of job seekers on our books are from Eastern Europe,” says the founder of Bradford-based Relay Recruitment. “And that’s been the case for the past three years.” Street ditched his job at Pertemps to set up his own Bradford-based recruitment company in 1996. His firm specialises in four main areas: commercial; logistics; engineering; and industrial, and places around 400-800 candidates into temporary work each day. While he hasn’t seen a dip in the number of Poles applying for jobs, Street does admit that the calibre of these immigrants is waning. “The first wave of Polish immigrants arrived on these shores three years ago. They were typically graduates from Warsaw or Gdansk, they were highly skilled and they spoke fluent English.” “Now we’re seeing immigrants from more rural parts of Poland who have only a basic grasp of the English language.” To tackle the problem, Street offers all of his Eastern European candidates an ESOL (English for Speakers of other Languages) course, which is subsidised by the government. He’s also hired a Polish national, Mariusz Szak, to act as an Eastern European specialist, helping with translation and advising foreign job seekers on issues such as employment law and immigration regulations. And there’s still plenty of competition between businesses looking to recruit hard-working Poles. “The Polish government is trying to pull nationals back into the country. Meanwhile, companies such as Hallmark and Cadbury’s have set up factories out there. If UK businesses want to hire Eastern European workers, they’re going to have to compete for them.”
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