Thursday, 2 May 2013

The Myth of Self-Employment

As Poland's unemployment rate approaches 15%, there are also many other problems on Poland's labour market. It has one of the highest amount of workers employed on temporary insecure (so-called junk) contracts, that has grown rapidly over the past decade. It also has a huge number of people (27% of all the employed) who are self-employed. Whilst this has been presented as an example of the entrepreneurship of the Polish population, it is more often than not another way of shifting labour costs onto working people.

An interesting article in Social Europe looks at this: 

The downfall of communism in Poland cried for the rebirth of entrepreneurship, believed to be one of the tools for rebuilding civil society. With time passing by faith in entrepreneurship has brought it to schools as a subject taught to young people on the threshold of adulthood. Accession to the EU mainstreamed the term, which together with “innovation” and “creativity” settled for good in the modernization newspeak. And entrepreneurship has become a remedy for financial crisis, that finally flooded the green island of Poland, proclaimed by Prime Minister Donald Tusk in 2010.

The concept of entrepreneurship has adopted a very peculiar form though. According to a GfK survey from 2012, the young generation of Poles is the most enthusiastic about entrepreneurship in Europe. What’s more, Poles practise high levels of entrepreneurship as measured by the percentage of self-employed in the total workforce. They represent 23% of all employed, which is a stunning number compared to the EU27 average of 15%. One can presume that both creative attitudes and innovative actions have been released. However, of almost 3 million self-employed only 1/5 are employers. The remaining 2,25 million other entrepreneurs only employ themselves. As a study of the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development showed, the micro sector in Poland is less stable than in other EU countries\