Eastern Poland is reputed to be a region in which well-educated and highly qualified workers can be employed at a low pay. Graduates of three major academic centres in Lublin, Białystok and Rzeszów have excellent qualifications, yet the level of gross remuneration remains several per cent lower than that of the country’s average.
This advantageous for an employer relation between labour costs and work quality does matter in locating traditional , labour-consuming sectors such as the furniture industry or timber processing, as well as the tourist industry and services in Eastern Poland. What presents a real threat is mass migration of specialists to other urban areas or abroad in search of better living conditions. The same applies to school leavers who seek employment somewhere else. Moreover, Eastern Poland,except some parts of Podkarpackie Voivodeship, suffers from a debit demographic balance and an ageing society. Another problem is hidden unemployment in the rural areas.
At present, over half of the population of Eastern Poland has found employment in various industries. About 20% of the inhabitants are employed in trade and car repair services, about 9% in the building industry, and about 4% in transport and logistics. The biggest employer is still the food industry, except Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeship, where timber processing and the furniture industry plays locally a significant role.The greatest number of people are employed in smaller enterprises, where automation is not very advanced, whereas large modernized plants have a much bigger share in production than in employment.In the future a dynamically developing sector providing specialized advisory services is likely to affect the structure of employment. Business Process Outscoring, for instance, will advise to employ highly qualified but not expensive staff. Employment in the tourist industry and transport should also increase.
The main problem of the local labour market is low and irregular population density, a shortage of qualified workforce, and a debit demografic balance due to migration and the low birth rate. Additionally, for some years the number of post-working age population has been growing rapidly, and the labour market is entered by fewer and fewer young people. The voivodeship is ranked fifteenth in Poland in terms of GNP per capita. The unemployment rate is about 12%, but high hidden unemployment in rural areas must be also taken into consideration. Furthermore, the number of economically active population is continuously dropping. Although the agricultural sector still remains the biggest employer, the employment rate keeps decreasing. On the other hand the number of workers in the building industry, the tourist sector, services and counselling is rising. The average gross salaryin the voivodeship amounts to about PLN 2700 and has a slowly growing tendency.
Potential workers on the local labour market are well-qualified and have experienced working in adverse legal and economoc conditions. But the recurrent problem is ‘brain drain”- highly skilled young professionals, lured by better salaries and living standards, decide to leave the region for good to seek more profitable opportunities in Warsaw or abroad. Even the enterprises which plan to create new jobs in Lublin are not in the position to put an end to this tendency. A debit demographic balance is another acute problem. According to The Central Statistical Office’s projection, by the year 2030 the number of population will have diminished by 170,000. The number of elderly people will have increased proportionally. The Employment Agency’s data indicate that the unemployment rate among economically active population (the unemployment rate I) is steady and amounts to about 12%. The highest number of the jobbless get registered in small towns.The regional intensity unemployment indicator was slightly higher than that of the national one which amounted to 11,6%. The greatest number of job vacancies can be found in Lublin and its neighbourhood. There are many more jobless people in the vicinity of Zamość and Biała Podlaska. The average salary in Lublin Voivodeship is 87,8% of the gross national average, i.e. About PLN 2800.
There is a high disproportion between well-educated and qualified population of the major towns employed in research and industrial centres, and uneducated people living in traditional rural areas, affected by substantial hidden unemployment. A remarkable advantage, on the other hand, is a credit demographic balance caused by strong family bonds which, in turn, result in attachement to their native land. In the region small firms expand dynamically, and the main town Rzeszów provides entrepreneurs with qualified experts,who will be in constant demand.Still, the education system does not meet the local labour market’s needs. The unemployment rate amounts to 14,7% and results from uneven employment in border poviats,where it exceeds 22%. The average salary is PLN 2700, that is several per cent less than the gross national average.
Like other voivodeships, it has also a debit demographic balance, and rural population is prevalent. The majority of the inhabitants are employed in agriculture and food processing. The second sector for the workers to be employed in are services, then the metal and building industries,which are scattered all over the region. The employed have mostly vocational training. At present the average unemployment rate amounts to 14,1% and varies in different parts of the voivodeship. The gross average salary is lower than that of the national one and amounts to about PLN 2900.
The most acute problem of the voivodeship is the drastically high unemployment rate amounting to 18,4%, low mobility and low economic population activity. These unfavourable factors are accompanied by a debit migration balance, which is not compensated for by a credit demographic balance, and a generally low level of education.There is no tradition of cooperation among enterprises, though almost all companies are in the private sector. Working places are offered by agriculture, food processing and the wood industry. The activities of several foreign investors and a special economic zone do not affect the structure of employment. The gross average salary amounts to about PLN 2700.