Polish group set up to match skills

WITH the number of Polish workers helping to sustain the Huntingdonshire economy reaching 3,500, business leaders have moved to help them make the best use of their skills. Huntingdon Chamber of Commerce has set up a new Anglo-Polish sector, chaired by Kr

WITH the number of Polish workers helping to sustain the Huntingdonshire economy reaching 3,500, business leaders have moved to help them make the best use of their skills.

Huntingdon Chamber of Commerce has set up a new Anglo-Polish sector, chaired by Krystyna Gibbons, wife of chamber chairman Stuart Gibbons, managing director of St Ives-based Le Mark, a former Hunts Post Business Awards winner.

Mrs Gibbons, who was born in Britain to Polish parents and works for a corporate health insurance company from her home in Holme, told The Hunts Post: "The two biggest problems are that Polish skills are not always recognised here, and the language - even though English has now superseded Russian as the second language there for younger generations.

"A lot of well-qualified people are working for growers or doing routine factory work when they possess skills that are in demand in the local economy.


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"The section was formed to try to look at what we as a chamber could do to help, and to match workers' expertise with particular industries."

From her dealings with chambers of commerce across East Anglia, employers' experience of Eastern European workers had been "absolutely fantastic", she added.

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One thought was that the chamber could organise regular informal networking meetings at which Polish workers could meet companies that either employed Eastern Europeans already or had business dealings with the region.

Their impact since the eight former Comecon nations acceded to the EU in May 2004 had already been socially profound in Cambridgeshire, she said. Polish clubs in Cambridge and Peterborough that had been foundering for lack of patronage were now thriving once more, and attendances at Roman Catholic churches had soared.

The chamber's new sector aimed to match that level of dynamism in the business community, bringing together members from across business sectors with someone who could speak on behalf of the Polish community in Huntingdonshire, she added. "We're also looking for sponsors."

CONTACT: Michael Fegan, director of development, Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, on 01223 237414 or 01733 393333.

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