Labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe in the Nordic countries

Patterns of migration, working conditions and recruitment practices

image of Labour migrants from Central and Eastern Europe in the Nordic countries

This report presents the results from a project that has aimed to generate new comparative knowledge about labour migration from Central and Eastern Europe to the Nordic countries, the factors that shape wage and working conditions for labour migrants and recruitment processes and practices. In the report we:

- Describe and compare patterns of labour migration between Central and Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries.

- Compare the working conditions of Polish labour migrants in in Oslo, Copenhagen and Reykjavik – and analyse how their labour market situation is shaped by variations in national regulations, systems of collective bargaining and local labour market structures.

- Analyse the particular role of recruitment agencies in introducing new migrants to the Nordic labour markets.

The research has been conducted by a team of researchers from Fafo (Norway), FAOS (Denmark), CIRRA/MIRRA (Iceland), CMR (Poland) and SOFI (Sweden).



The language of work

When immigrant integration is discussed in the Nordic countries, knowledge of the host country language is often pointed out as a key factor, and weak language skills are often seen as one of the main obstacles to employment for immigrants. It may therefore appear as somewhat of a paradox that since 2004, hundreds of thousands of citizens from the new EU member states in Central and Eastern Europe have managed to find employment in the Nordic countries – usually without knowing a single word of the host country language. And unlike the case for other immigrant groups, language acquisition is rarely emphasized as a policy goal in relation to new labour migrants in any of the Nordic countries. Nevertheless, it seems obvious that language skills are important for the opportunities and adaptations of recent labour migrants in host country labour markets and societies. In this chapter we will take a closer look at the language skills of the Polish workers, what language they usually speak in the workplace, and whether or not they have access to language training.


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