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Recruitment: Looking east to fill the skills shortage

With the skills shortage in the automotive sector showing no signs of disappearing, employers are having to look further afield to find the staff they need.

In 2004 the EU expanded to include much of the Eastern Bloc, including Poland, and there are various recruitment companies out there offering to find employees in these countries.

Staff Finders is an agency specialising in this process and since 2004 has supplied more than 1,000 technicians, panel beaters, mechanics, painters and service and administration staff to UK bodyshops and the vehicle service industry.

It requires prospective employers to pay for the cost of running a national advert in Poland. Andy Abraham, managing director at Staff Finders, says: “It’s easy to find the workers, but it’s hard to bring them to the UK.”

Staff Finders looks after all the logistics and management of this including finding housing, arranging English classes if necessary, bank accounts and 24-hour telephone support for both employer and employee.

“Employers pay no front or end fee,” explains Abraham. “Basically we make a £1.75 margin, so the employer pays this for every hour the employee works. Also, we look after the wages, National Insurance and holiday pay.”

Before the workers are allowed to start their jobs, which run on a six-month trial basis initially, Staff Finders ensures they have had a personal profile analysis, criminal record checks and other tests to ensure their technical skills.

“In the end it all boils down to how good their work is. I would say that one out of every hundred people we place doesn’t work out,” says Abraham. “In those cases we find a replacement and try again.”

As the workers are all skilled in their fields, Abraham believes that language can be a big barrier initially but that for roles such as technicians this is less of an issue.

“They tend to just get on with the mending,” he says. “Often because of the cultural differences they work more fast and accurately than British technicians.”

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