Unemployment High Among Polish Residents

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Unemployment High Among Polish Residents

In the survey, unemployed members of the union as well as those newly-employed were asked to fill out a questionnaire concerning their current or previous unemployment. The survey could be filled out in Icelandic or Polish.

The study revealed that many had found work through family and friends. This was especially the case among male respondents, half of whom had found work through family and friends, whereas one out of three women reported finding work through someone they knew. Rúv.is reports the Directorate of Labor or Vinnumálastofnun has only helped 6 percent of those who participated in the survey to find work.

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Harpa Music and conference center during construction. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

A quarter of the 2,700 Polish residents in the Efling trade union are unemployed and many blame the language barrier. Only 13 percent of registered Polish workers in the union are able to communicate properly in Icelandic and three out of four believe it would be easier to find employment if their Icelandic improved.

However, 64 percent of Polish workers in the union had found work with the assistance of friends and family as opposed to only 29 percent of Icelandic members. One third of Icelandic job seekers in the union use connections to find employment, according to mbl.is.

Overall, 40 percent of workers in the union found employment through friends and family and 23 percent through job postings. 28 percent of women found work through job postings as opposed to only 15 percent of men. Only 8.5 percent of Polish workers found work through job listings.

Unemployment in Iceland is currently measured at 7.2 percent. A large number of foreign citizens residing in Iceland are unemployed, or roughly half of all those registered unemployed. Thereof, a majority is of Polish descent. 13.4 percent of members in the Efling Union are currently seeking employment, mbl.is reports.

The survey indicates that Icelanders are generally more optimistic about finding work in the next three months. 29 percent of Icelandic members were certain they would find work in the next three months while only 15.8 percent of Polish members residing in Iceland shared their optimism.

The survey also indicates that while 83 percent of Icelanders can carry a conversation in English, only half of the 13 percent of Polish workers in the union can carry a conversation in English, mbl.is reports. 

Roughly two out of five, or 39 percent, of those employed after a period of unemployment are employed in a different sector, thereof 44 percent Icelanders. In general, Icelanders apply for more jobs than Polish workers. It is not unlikely that the language barrier plays a role. 

60 percent of those now employed are much happier in their new jobs than their previous.

The survey also revealed that three out of five job seekers or 60 percent have never sought professional assistance in their search in the last two years. Fewer Polish workers sought consultation during their search, or a total of 75 percent, mbl.is reports.

Participants were also asked if they had sought consultation following their dismissal from their previous employment. Only 74 percent of Icelanders and 81 percent of Polish members had done so.

The survey also shows that half of all employers seeking staff rarely or never reply to job applicants. The numbers are based on job seekers’ personal experiences and Efling encourages  employers to do better than that, according to mbl.is

The biggest surprise is the low number of positions found with the assistance of the Directorate of Labor.

JB