Jan was born in Poland. He is 35 years old and moved to the UK in 2005. In Poland he was self-employed as a baker for a family business. When he moved to the UK, he worked in a warehouse until 2009, finding this job via an employment recruitment agency. As part of this work he was given training including forklift truck driving. In 2009 he left this job to return to Poland for a period of two months. In this time he completed a certificate in European Union forklift truck driving, because he thought it would help him to find work in the UK, but on returning to the UK he couldn’t find any employer that would recognise his European certificate so he had to undertake another English forklift certificate. He is currently working in a factory as an auditor and he has had various positions including forklift truck driver and operator. He found the job via an employment recruitment agency and was made a permanent member of staff after 18 months. He is happy that he is able to pay into a pension and the employer matches his contributions. He feels that in using an employment recruitment agency, there is more of a chance of success in finding work quicker. However, it does mean that you are paid less for overtime worked. The hourly wage for those employed directly and those employed via an agency is now the same, although it used to be less. He has studied for an ECDL (international computer skills certification programme) qualification and is thinking about studying maths to start to work in engineering, as he previously started to study engineering in Poland and feels that such jobs may be better paid than what he is doing at the moment. He feels like he has good qualifications which are relevant to jobs but that his English skills don’t meet job criteria requirements. He studied English language in Poland for eight years but found when he arrived in the UK, that it was different to what he had learnt. In order to improve his English, as well as attending an ESOL course, he feels that working with English people has helped. From his experience of witnessing others around him experience redundancy, he doesn’t feel that Unions are helpful in preventing or helping with employment related issues and therefore isn’t a member.
“when I’ve been in Poland, I also did a Polish certificate in European Union forklifts because I thought when I come back to England that certificate lets me find more jobs in that direction. But unfortunately I haven’t found any employer that accepts that Polish certificate, so straight after... when I came back and I found out that nobody accepts that certificate, I did the English one, so that certificate is acceptable everywhere.”