The priceless impact of Polish experts from the technological industry on the development of this sector around the world is confirmed by the success of Poles, such as, among others, Susan Wojcicki, Steve Wozniak and Jacek Tramiel. Related to such industry players as YouTube, Apple or Commodore, all of them were Polish emigrants or offspring of Polish emigrants. Professional migrations, in particular in the technological sector, are still attractive for many experts. Yet it is something more than just attractive pay that makes them willing to leave Poland. Which factor dominates over the financial one and how did the Covid-19 pandemic affect their lives? Second Edition of the “E-migration. Polish Technological Diaspora” Report describes the professional and personal life of Polish experts on emigration.
“E-migration. Polish Technological Diaspora” is a project initiated by the Emigration Museum in Gdynia in 2018 and implemented in partnership with the PLUGin Polish Innovation Diaspora Foundation.This is the first study to comprehensively diagnose the situation of Poles and persons of Polish origin who are active abroad in broadly understood modern sectors of economy with respect to their personal and professional situation so that a certain general characteristics of the group could be made on such basis.
Research areas accounted for the socio-demographic, professional dimension, family situation, migration experiences, social and professional relations on emigration, feeling of identity and bond with the country, perspective of returning to Poland, as well as cooperation with persons, institutions or organisations from Poland.
The second edition of the study took place in 2020, and the première of the report coincides with its finalisation. The date of publication of results is not accidental: the Polish Diaspora and Poles Abroad Day is celebrated on 2 May.
In the newest edition of the report, we are taking a look at such issues as stereotypes, work environment, attitude to return to Poland and how lockdown affected the professional life of the technological diaspora.
Stereotypes: Leitmotif of the Newest Study
Who is a representative of the Polish technological diaspora? This year’s report tackles the issue of stereotypes. These are primarily young and middle-aged people. They are well-educated, they assess their life on emigration very well – both in general terms and in relation to the professional situation, family relations and health. As far as identity is concerned, they feel simultaneously European and Polish.
“A stereotypical representative of the Polish technological diaspora is usually a man, a programmer, very well educated and with extensive experience in the sector, acquired in Poland and abroad. He is a valued specialist in his area. Intelligent, ambitious, pays a lot attention to the details and the quality and effects of own work. He is very reliable, diligent and continually improves own competence, learns. Rather an introvert, rarely builds deep relations. It is worth stressing that the structure of the quantitative study sample contradicts this phenomenon, for example in the context of sex – in both study editions (2018 and 2020), the distribution of the respondents’ sex is almost equal, more or less a half of the respondents are women. Furthermore, programmers only make up 19% of the sample from 2020 and persons working in the IT industry account in total to 40%. And thus the stereotype of a Polish migrant from the high-tech industry is quite distant from the objective picture of this group,” says Rafał Raczyński, co-author of the study.
Favourable Lock-down for IT Employees?
The results of this year’s report cast a new light on several aspects of life of this group and refer to the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As shown by the study, the pandemic significantly affected the respondents’ lives both in the professional and social aspects.
The majority of the respondents, primarily related to the technological or IT sectors, assess the changes caused by the pandemic in a definitely positive manner. They have treated the last months as a period of development or certain professional stabilisation. The majority praises remote work that allows for a more flexible approach to professional obligations, offers a possibility of devoting more time to family and reduces the level of stress. For some people, the lock-down and limitations in travelling also entail saving time – there is no necessity to commute to the office. On the other hand, some people – even those who are not afraid of losing their jobs – note that the situation on the market in highly specialist industries has changed for the worse. In other words, from the individual perspective the situation is better, yet from the general perspective it has slightly deteriorated.
Sceptical Approach to Return to Poland
The political and economic situation in Poland does not positively affect the decisions about returning. As shown by the report, institutional, systemic improvements and programmes supporting returns from emigration have a slight impact on the potential plans of the respondents. A definite majority of the diaspora representatives (72%) did not hear about them, whereas 28% of the respondents decided that they would have absolutely no impact; in total, over a half (59%) indicated a minimum impact or lack thereof. If the respondents considered returning to the country, the solutions that they would take into account would be the potential economic and business aspects: tax relief, improvements for persons conducting business activity and access to the labour market for family members. Some respondents concede that it is difficult to find work for their partners in Poland, in particular foreigners.
“The results of the second edition show that definitely fewer representatives of the technological diaspora think about returning to the country than in the case of the group studied in 2018. This is a worrying tendency, which clearly shows the importance of quality aspects of life for the Polish emigrants. The respondents acknowledge that in some cases, work at a similar position in Poland would be related to the same or higher pay, as well as higher material standard of life, but in spite of it they do not decide to come back. Quality of life, stabilisation, work culture and absence of political and economic turmoil in the country of emigration induce the emigrants to live abroad. Additionally, the reluctance to return is deepened by the stable family and professional situation. Results of the study clearly indicate the growing distance between the conditions and system solutions in Poland and abroad,” summarises Sebastian Tyrakowski, deputy director of the Emigration Museum in Gdynia, co-author of the study.
Would you like to learn more? Download the newest “E-migration. Polish Technological Diaspora” Report (available in Polish): https://polska1.pl/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Raport-E-migracja.-Polska-diaspora-technologiczna.pdf