Unemployment among older and less educated people

We already described unemployment among young people and women. Now is the time to explain the reasons of unemployment among older and less educated people, especially those from small towns and villages.

The report about unemployment released in September 2004 (the total unemployment was estimated at 18.9-19%) by vice prime-minister, Hausner, expressed concerns that more and more people remain unemployed even after one year - after this time period they stop receiving any unemployment benefits.

People in the age range 30-54 remain unemployed for the longest time. People of this age group spent at least half of their life under the communist system, they are not well adjusted to the new capitalist system, which requires personal responsibility and flexibility. They are unwilling or they do not have a chance to re-educate and move from their home to the areas where more jobs are available.

People in the age range 30-54 are characterized by:

    It is not easy for them, especially those with families, to move from one area of Poland to another in search of a job or to commute to work over a long distance. The state of the roads and public transportation is not good for fast commuting over long distances, so in order to get a job in another region, one has to move there physically. The reasons of low mobility are complex and will be described in the next subchapters.

    People are used to living in the same town as their parents and grandparents did. The model of extended families is quite common (we wrote about it in the article Homesickness of Polish people - difficulty to form a stable relationship abroad). Unfortunately in the Polish specific situation when structural unemployment dominates (read about it in the article Polish characteristic features of unemployment) the only way to find a job is to become flexible and mobile.

    It is difficult to find an apartment in a different place since Poles have a very hard time in securing an apartment for their own families even in the town they were born in. Often children with families have to share an apartment (usually small, 1-2 bedrooms) with their parents, this is even one of the main causes for a divorce in Poland (read about it in the article The main Causes for Divorces in Poland. Selling an apartment in one town and buying one in another town is a difficult task. The services are not well developed. In the US for instance, one does not even need to own the house in order to exchange it for another one - in Poland this is not the case. You have to buy it, then you have to sell it, finally you have to find a different one and buy it for cash also. In Poland there are no apartment complexes available where one could easily rent an apartment for an affordable price while your real state agent tries to sell your house. When you want to sell a house or an apartment -you are on your own and you do all of the work.

    Migration is simplified only in some particular instances and in some particular directions - from small towns and villages to the bigger cities. For instance the students who are accepted to the universities may be eligible to live in a room in the student dormitory. There are many more students who want to live in dorms than rooms available. Besides, every room is occupied by several students (usually 2-4). For the unlucky ones - there are not really any decent apartments to rent. The students have to rent a room from somebody, often they have to share an apartment with an elderly lady for some money and help.
    During communism there was also a system of the workers' hotels where people could be accomodated for a temporary period of time. It was usually limited to big companies, such as steelworks or mines, that could afford to build such hotels.

    The communist system did not teach people to be on their own, to be their own boss, industrious and enterprising. People's mentality did not change yet, the tax system does not support small businesses. Bureaucracy and communist mentality of the state clerks and local administration still rules. People relied too long on the state to help arrange their lives. Many people worked their whole life in the same company. They did not need to improve their qualifications, they did not need to reeducate themselves, since they had one job for all their life. The system of reeducation, although it is developing in Poland now, rarely attracts people over 40 or 50 years old. In the past people often drowned their stress in vodka according to the phrase they had: too little money to save but too much to die and no motivation to change. Unfortunately this tradition is continued until now. Still, the overmortality among men in their 40s to 60s is caused mainly by overabuse of alcohol, tobacco, cigarettes and accidents related to drinking.

    People learned to abuse the communist system by simulating sickness in their company and working illegally somewhere else - for instance trading goods between Poland and some other neighboring countries. In the past - abusing the system was not condemned by the society, since communism was unpopular. The same mentality still prevails today, some people prefer to take unemployment benefits or to simulate sickness and stay on welfare while seeking illegal ways to earn money. The respect for work is not yet that high as in some other countries of Western Europe. Read more about it in the article: The Work Ethics in Poland. Even if a person finds a job eventually, without the right motivation he/she can lose it very soon especially since the businesses prefer to hire untrained people for a trial period or part-time without any benefits. Therefore among people of this class, job retention is pretty low, especially since some of them are alcohol addicts as we explained in the previous point.

    In the next article read about the specifically Polish characteristics of unemployment.

    by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn (article #219)

    Check a funny and interesting but also truthful book about Poles The Xenophobe's Guide to the Poles by Ewa Lipniacka (Author)

    If you would like to learn Polish you may try: The Oxford Picture Dictionary: English/Polish, by Norma Shapiro, Jayme Adelson-Goldstein

    Below is a good and practical dictionary of Polish language:

    Polish-English English-Polish Dictionary (Hippocrene Practical Dictionary, by Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski

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