484.2 Polish women in the British labour market: Experiences of de-skilling and re-skilling

Friday, August 3, 2012: 10:56 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Bernadetta SIARA , City University London, London, United Kingdom
This paper will discuss employment experiences of Polish women in the United Kingdom (UK). The research found that women seemed to have experienced occupational downgrading i.e. women worked in lower level occupations in the UK in comparison to the occupations they held in Poland. Moreover, women experienced de-skilling, as despite having high level skills and qualification, they worked in occupations requiring low level skills.

Higher education qualifications from Poland or good language knowledge played little positive role in women’s experiences overall. Women experienced barriers on the UK labour market i.e. some did not have their rights satisfied and experienced unfavourable treatment at work in a form of discrimination and bullying. However, some women acquired higher level qualifications in the UK and as a result their situation appeared to change for the better. Re-skilling i.e. getting new skills and qualifications appeared to have improved their situation.  They were then more likely to work in higher level occupations and more likely to have positive experiences.

This paper shows that although Polish women in the UK seem to have a high level of human capital (including both high level qualifications and very good English language knowledge) they seem to be disadvantaged in the labour market in terms of type of work performed and general employment experiences. The migration context is additionally important as Polish women in the UK as the EU citizens have an unrestricted by immigration rules access to the labour market and educational system, so they have an opportunity to freely change employment and acquire new skills and qualifications and some research participants did so. However, despite that women still experience a ‘double disadvantage’ connected with their migrant and gender status in the UK.