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Changing faces, shaping places - Moving for money

Changing faces, shaping places

Key questions

  • What is economic migration?
  • Why have Poles migrated to the UK?
  • What are some of the issues surrounding the migration of Polish workers to the UK?
  • How might this shape the UK and Poland, now and in the future?

Key concepts

  • Cultural understanding and diversity
  • Place
  • Interdependence

What is economic migration?

Economic Migrants Report, IPPR 2007: the immigration status of communities in the UK according to their countries of birth:

  • India: Commonwealth immigrants, recent work permit holders and some asylum seekers and refugees, working holidaymakers plus a large number of students
  • Republic of Ireland: Have never been subject to UK immigration controls so free to live and work in the UK. Now enjoy EU national rights in the UK
  • Poland: New EU nationals, free to come to the UK if they register on the Worker Registration Scheme, or are self-employed, or can prove they can support themselves without recourse to state benefits; settled community of Second World War refugees and European Volunteer Workers
  • Pakistan: Commonwealth immigrants, recent work permit holders and some asylum seekers and refugees, plus students
  • Bangladesh: Commonwealth immigrants, recent work permit holders and some asylum seekers and refugees
  • South Africa: Work permit holders, people with rights to settle in the UK on the basis of ancestry, and working holidaymakers
  • USA: Work permit holders, people with rights to settle in the UK on the basis of ancestry, and students
  • Jamaica: Commonwealth immigrants, recent work permit holders and a small number of asylum seekers and refugees
  • Nigeria: Work permit holders, students, refugees and asylum seekers
  • China (including SARS): Former Hong Kong residents, work permit holders, students, refugees and asylum seekers
  • Kenya: Older flows of settled migrants (including white Britons and Asians born in Kenya), recent work permit flows and a small number of asylum seekers
  • Australia: Work permit holders, people with rights to settle in the UK on the basis of ancestry, students and working holidaymakers
  • France: EU nationals free to live and work in the UK
  • Zimbabwe: Work permit holders, people with rights to settle in the UK on the basis of ancestry, refugees and asylum seekers
  • Sri Lanka: Commonwealth immigrants, students, refugees and asylum seekers
  • Philippines: Largely composed of work permit holders
  • Italy: EU nationals free to live and work in the UK
  • Ghana: Largely composed of work permit holders
  • Somalia: Largely refugees and asylum seekers, with a small number of work permit holders
  • Canada: Work permit holders, people with rights to settle in the UK on the basis of ancestry, students and working holidaymakers
  • Turkey: Some labour migrants and more recent flows of Kurdish refugees and asylum seekers
  • Cyprus: New EU nationals free to live and work in the UK; relatively large settled community
  • Portugal: EU nationals free to live and work in the UK
  • Iran: Settled community of refugees from the Iranian Revolution, more recently arrived asylum seekers and refugees, and work permit holders
  • Uganda: Older flows of settled migrants (including Asians born in Uganda); recent work permit flows and some refugees and asylum seekers

Why have Poles migrated to the UK?

In May 2004, eight new countries joined the EU. They were: Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The government predicted that between 5,000 and 13,000 migrant workers would take advantage of the opportunity to come to the UK, but this was a significant underestimate. Since 2004, a reported one million migrant workers have come to the UK from these countries (IPPR report April 2008 - summary available in the BBC News article EU migrants ‘settling across UK' - 30.04.08).

Between May 2004 and December 2006, migrants from the eight new EU countries filled gaps in the labour market, particularly in near minimum wage industries such as food, catering, agriculture or manufacturing and production. Factory workers comprised 37% if the total numbers of workers over the first two years, but many workers have now gone into administrative, business and clerical jobs, as well as catering and hospitality. Transport has seen some substantial numbers - 16,000 workers over three years. Some 21,000 workers have gone into construction. Some 97% of registered workers were found to be working full time and the majority, as expected, were earning on the lower end of the scale between minimum wage (currently £5.73 an hour for workers over the age of 22) and £6 an hour. The BBC News website has produced a map to show levels of immigration from the new EU countries to different regions of the UK.

Poles are now the largest foreign national group in the UK, overtaking people born in India (many of whom are now British citizens). Before the EU expansion, Poles were the 13th largest group.

When Poland became a member of the European Union in 2004, its citizens won the freedom to work in Britain. There are really two reasons that explain why so many are choosing to exercise that freedom. First, the average annual income in Poland is £4,000 a year. Second, Poland has the highest unemployment rate in Europe.

Since Poland joined the EU in 2004, 274,065 Poles have signed up for work permits. They make up 66% of all applications from Eastern European countries.

Poland represents the classic migration model in that it is work driven.

However, many of the migrants from the new EU member countries come to the UK on a temporary or seasonal basis, and about half of the one million have already returned home. In addition, the number of arrivals has now fallen to its lowest level since 2004, with only 40,000 applications between April and June 2008 - a drop of 14,000 on the same period in 2007 (see BBC News article Drop in East European migration - 21.08.08 - for more information on this topic). This may be because the Polish zloty has strengthened against the pound since 2004 so there is less money to send home. The current recession in the UK is another factor.

Low pay, long hours, lack of adequate accommodation, language barriers and a lack of knowledge about basic rights are all problems that migrants may face when moving to another country.

In the UK, there have been reports of employers exploiting migrant workers. This may involve paying workers below the minimum wage, not giving statutory sick pay or holidays, or providing substandard accommodation. (See BBC News article Migrant workers ‘facing problems' - 11.06.06).

Workers may also face difficulties opening bank accounts, obtaining National Insurance numbers or getting work permits. Tensions between local and migrant populations may mean that it is not easy to make friends, join clubs or courses, or seek advice. International qualifications may not be recognised in the UK so some workers may be unable to find work in their particular area of expertise.

Some parts of the country, for example Scotland and Devon, now provide welcome packs for migrant workers including important information to help them settle in the country.

A report published by the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee in August 2008 entitled Community Cohesion and Migration found that many migrants make a significant contribution to their local community by working in public services such as the NHS. (Again, the BBC News article Immigration ‘harming communities' (16.07.08) provides more information on this topic.)

More facts:

  • Three-quarters of the migrants from the new EU member countries are aged 16 to 39 years
  • The employment rate amongst these migrants is 84%, among the highest of all immigrant groups and nine per cent higher than for the UK-born population
  • Very few post enlargement migrants claim state benefits
  • Eastern European migrants work on average four hours per week longer than UK-born workers
  • Forty four million pints of Polish beer (Lech and Tyskie) are sold each year in the UK

How might this shape the UK and Poland, now and in the future?

What if all the Poles went home? (BBC News website, 27.03.08)

Reports that the numbers of Polish economic migrants are in decline will have implications for industry in the UK: particularly the construction and agricultural industries. Plumbers and carpenters are being tempted back to Poland as a result of construction programmes linked to the country's co-hosting of the 2012 European Championships. Construction linked to the London 2012 Olympics will require an estimated 87,500 builders each year, and a lack of available labour may prove to be a problem. In some parts of the country, expensive fruit crops have been left unpicked as migrant worker numbers are down on previous years. The decline in Eastern European economic migration is uncovering a major problem of a lack of a skilled local labour force in the UK.

Downloads

Dots

Starter

Eurovision mystery

Use the Eurovision cards to solve the Eurovision mystery.

You will be asked to find out the answer to the following question:

Why do Germany and Turkey tend to score each other highly in the Eurovision song contest?

The cards contain clues to help you solve the mystery, and there are also three questions on the card sheet for you to answer.

The answer to the mystery links to the case study you will be looking at during the rest of the lesson.

Dots

Main

Economic migration and the UK

Have a go at the economic migration and the UK interactive PowerPoint activity which will give you some background information about recent economic migration to the UK. In this lesson, we will be focusing particularly on the immigration of Polish workers to the UK.

When you have completed the activity, write a paragraph to summarise your findings. Your paragraph should include the following key terms:

  • Economic migration
  • European Union
  • Eastern Europe
  • East Anglia
  • Agriculture
  • Poland
  • Migration age
  • Employment

Cartoon and commentary

Now that you have a bit of background knowledge about economic migration to the UK, you need to carry out a bit of research to find out more about Polish immigration in particular.

Here is a list of articles that you might find useful:

You should aim to read two articles from this list, plus one other that you have found on the topic of migration.

Organise your findings in the cartoon commentary table.

Now select one of the issues you've identified and create a cartoon strip to illustrate it. The PowerPoint slide will give you some more guidance for the task.

Share your completed cartoon and commentary with the rest of the class.

Dots

Plenary

Looking into the future

The PowerPoint presentation includes an extract from an article on the BBC News website: Half EU migrants ‘have left UK'. Read the extract and think about the positive and negative consequences of this for both the UK and Poland. You can organise your thoughts in the table on the second page of the presentation. Another article that you might find useful is this: Migrants to UK ‘returning home' (BBC News website, 08.09.09).

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