Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

Hungarian Migrants in the UK Labour Market: A Pilot Study of the Former Education of Hungarian Migrants and the Underutilisation of Their Skills in the UK

In May 2004, eight East European countries (A8)became members of the EU. The UK was one of the three countries, together with Ireland and Sweden, that granted the new Europeans immediate and free access to their labour markets. As a result, a large number of work-seekers arrived in the UK. Between April 2004 and March 2005, 116,840 A8 citizens requested a national insurance number (Department for Work and Pensions 2012). The new arrivals have received significant attention from politicians, the media, the public at large, and researchers. This Issue Paper explores the views and experiences of 10 Hungarian migrants living in the south-east of England. Although the number of Hungarians in the UK is not considerable when compared to migrants from some other countries (for example, Poland or Lithuania), nevertheless it has increased tenfold since 2004. Interviewees suggested that the UK offered better opportunities for employment than Hungary, despite working in low-skilled and low-paid jobs in the UK. The findings indicate that most interviewees arrived in the UK to learn English and to establish financial security for themselves. Local employers largely disregarded the qualifications and work experiences the respondents had gained in Hungary and many respondents had limited knowledge of the English language. Therefore, the interviewees did not consider themselves as competitive in the UK labour market and were forced to accept low-skilled and low-paid jobs, which they felt were well below their abilities and aspirations. By 2014, all interviewees felt that they had established financial security, but only very few had achieved professional satisfaction.

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