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  • Project contributors: Findlay A, McCollum D,

    This Project is linked to the following Strand/s:

    Migration and Mobility

    Overview

    Objectives
    This project explored labour market aspects of East-Central European migration to the UK, specifically A8 recruitment and employment patterns and how these changed between 2004 and the current recession. Since the accession of the A8 countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary and Estonia) to the European Union, citizens from these countries have had the right to freely participate in the British labour market. As a consequence of significant disparities in earning potential, large numbers of A8 migrants have come to the UK, with nationals from these states constituting some of the largest foreign-born populations in the country.

    Methods
    The research involved 70 interviews with labour providers (recruitment agencies) and users (employers) of migrant labour in the hospitality, food production and processing sectors across four UK study sites. This perspective was innovative since few have previously attempted to analytically represent and interpret the diversity of recruitment/employment regimes that exist in relation to rural migrant labour. The analysis of the interviews in relation to the typology highlighted the significance of employer and recruitment-led practices in continually shaping and reshaping (producing) migration geographies. The UK interviews were complemented with further interviews with policymakers, recruitment agencies and employers in Latvia. This involved an exploration of the labour recruitment channels that shape labour migration flows from Latvia and how they are influenced by perceptions of the desirable qualities of the 'ideal' migrant worker. Intermediaries such as labour providers, the state and informal social networks were shown to exert considerable influence on the nature of labour migration flows from Latvia.

    Findings
    The research also investigated spatial, sectoral and temporal data from the Worker Registration Scheme (WRS). This showed that A8 migrants serve particular 'functions' in the UK, producing distinctive geographies of immigration. Of particular interest was how the recession influenced these trends. The main findings show how migrant labour is perceived and represented by UK employers. Theorisation of the knowledge practices of recruiters sheds new light on how cultural and social processes 'produce' and 'reproduce' migration geographies. Most A8 migrants work in the hospitality and agriculture sectors and through recruitment agencies. Migrant labour is particularly significant in the agribusiness industry, where demand for A8 workers has remained steady relative to sectors such as construction. These conclusions lead to the supposition that agribusiness is distinctive in terms of the way that migrant labour has become a necessary condition for the successful intensification of production that has taken place (Rogaly, 2008). Analysis of the research evidence resulted in a new typology of recruitment and employment practices and a dynamic model of their spatial impacts. The discourse relating to why East European migrants are desired/required in the UK labour market broadly supported a cultural economy perspective. Clearly in some senses migrant workers are 'produced' by this discourse that not only reveals interesting contradictions about the nature of 'embodied transnationalism' (Dunn, 2010), but also suggests that migrants themselves perform various self-regulating practices to conform to perceived social norms (Mansfield, 2000). Thus the research project provided evidence not only that idealised images of the 'good worker' (Scott et al, 2008) influence who is recruited for employment in the UK, but also that migrants self-regulate in a way that reinforces these social practices.

    Publications & Activities

    The 'good' Latvian worker: Imagining and producing the ideal labour migrant
    A long way from home: the Baltic people in the United Kingdom (2013). (Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies, University of Glasgow)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Rethinking labour migration channels: the experience of Latvia from EU accession to economic recession
    Migration, emigration and return migration perspectives from sending and receiving countries (2013). (Bamberg, Germany)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Imagining and producing the good migrant: The role of recruitment agencies in shaping bodily goodness
    ESRC-CPC and PGRG Conference on Innovative Perspectives on Population Mobility (2012). (St Andrews)
    Authors: Findlay A, McCollum D, Shubin S, Apsite-Berina E, Krisjane Z,

    Embodying the 'good' worker: The imagination and production of the ideal labour migrant
    32nd International Geographical Congress (2012). (Cologne)
    Authors: Findlay A, McCollum D, Shubin S, Apsite-Berina E, Krisjane Z,

    International Labour Mobility
    Migration and Ageing in the Highlands, CRFR (2012). (UHI Millennium Institute, University of the Highlands and Islands)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Trends in A8 migration 2004-2011: implications at the local level. Evidence from the Worker Registration Scheme
    Convention of Scottish Local Authorities Knowledge Exchange Event (2012). (Edinburgh)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Eastern European migration and the UK labour market: The recruitment and function of 'A8' labour migrants. Labour user and labour provider perspectives
    Space and Society Research Group Seminar (2011). (University of Dundee)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Embodying the 'good' worker: The imagination and production of the ideal labour migrant
    Centre for Population Change Brown Bag Seminar Series (2011). (National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Towards (un)sustainable employment? Exploring policy responses to work-welfare cycling
    Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference (2011). (London)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    The production and reproduction of migrant spaces: the case of East European migrant labour in the UK
    Royal Geographical Society Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference (2011). (London)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    International labour market recruitment processes, constructing difference in rural labour markets
    6th International Conference on Population Geographies (2011). (Umea University, Sweden)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    International labour mobility the changing patterns of recruitment & employment of Central and East European migrants working in England and Scotland
    Fresh Talent Policy Team Seminar (2010). (Scottish Government, Edinburgh)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    International Labour Mobility - The Case of East-Central European Migration to the UK
    Centre for Population Change Annual Meeting (2010). (Southampton)
    Authors: McCollum D,

    Changing Geographies of A8 migrants in Scotland during the recession
    Labour Migration International Geographical Union conference (2010). (National University of Ireland, Galway)
    Authors: Findlay A, McCollum D, Geddes A,

    International labour mobility the changing patterns of recruitment & employment of Central & East European migrants working in England & Scotland
    The Scottish Government (2010). (Victoria Quay)
    Authors: Findlay A, McCollum D,