THE BRITISH pound has long since lost its shine – for Slovaks. This is especially true if they calculate how much they could have earned in Britain several years ago, and how much this would be worth now. This may have led more than one fifth of the Slovaks who had moved to Britain to return home, the Sme daily wrote in August.
“The pound has weakened against the Slovak crown by almost 40 percent, while the euro by one quarter,” the scientific secretary of the Sociological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Miloslav Bahna, said, explaining why Great Britain might not necessarily be the ideal place to save money in order, for instance, to buy a flat.
Altogether, about 6,000 out of 30,000 Slovaks people left Britain, according to a poll. This is the first fall in numbers since Britain opened its labour market. The Centre for Labour, Social Affairs and Family has different statistics; it claims that by the end of last year, almost 80,000 people from Slovakia worked in Britain. But their information echoes that of the poll in terms of the trend for Slovaks leaving Britain.
“We know that some of them chose to return, but it cannot be called a mass trend,” Peter Zeman of the Centre explains. He sees the reason for leaving in the ever deteriorating situation in labour markets abroad, caused by the mortgage crisis.
Bahna agrees that the situation cannot yet be called a mass movement. It is difficult to say whether people have returned home, or have just moved to jobs where they get paid in euros. The second option is supported by the poll finding that Slovaks tend increasingly to travel in order to work. But it is also possible that increase in the numbers working in Austria, for instance, are because of people leaving Britain – these people may, in fact, have returned home.
Returnees cannot be sure of finding a good position. Those who stayed at home are believed by some to have an advantage in terms of the experience they have gained. Only a few of those who went abroad have managed to find work in the same sector for which they had studied at home.
“Workers from Slovakia are in a better position,” Jana Zedníková of the Trenkwalder recruitment agency says. She explains that a company may have invested a lot of resources in the home worker, so that he can develop and improve what he had learned at school. “On the contrary, someone who returns home after two years, and who had an unqualified job abroad loses all qualification potential that could improve his or her position at interview,” she adds.
But according to Darina Mokráňová of the Index Nosluš recruitment company, much depends on the specific job. Someone, who returns from Britain has a much better chance of getting a job which requires proof that he or she can master life in general. “This can be true for managers’ positions, although experience is an advantage,” she says.
An advantage for returnees may also be their English language skills. But this can be overstated, according to Bahna. “Sometimes they work in a team of other foreigners of even Czech and Slovaks,” he says. Bahna also says that unlike the situation 10 years ago, when any work experience from abroad was an asset, today recruiters differentiate based on the kind of job leavers have done. “It is not the same to work at a farm in Britain, to collect strawberries, and to work in a company.”
6. Oct 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff from press reports