The Labour Market Mobility of Polish Migrants: A Comparative Study of Three Regions in South Wales, UK
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Since Polish migrants began entering the UK labour market in the post-accession period, there has been a significant amount of case study research focusing on the impact of this large migrant group on the UK economy. However, ten years after enlargement, there is still insufficient information regarding the labour market mobility of Polish migrants residing in the UK for the longer term. The available research on this topic is largely concentrated in urban settings such as London or Birmingham, and does not necessarily capture the same patterns of labour market mobility as in non-urban settings. Using qualitative data collected in three case study locations – urban, semi-urban and rural – in the South Wales region from 2008–2012, this article has two main aims. First, given the proximity of the case study locations, the article highlights the diversity of the Polish migrant characteristics through the samples used. Second, using trajectories created from the data, this article compares the variations among the labour market movements of the Polish migrants in each sample to determine what characteristics influence labour market ascent. Through this comparative trajectory analysis, the findings from this article point to the relative English language competency of migrants as the primary catalyst for progression in the Welsh labour market across all three case study regions. The secondary catalyst, which is intertwined with the first, is the composition of the migrants’ social networks, which enable, or in some cases disable, labour market progression. These findings have significant implications in the national and in the supranational policy sphere regarding the employment of migrants as well as their potential for cultural integration in the future.
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