Poland is the country with the highest unemployment figures in the EU. Around 20% of Poles are without a job, which is a very disturbing figure. No wonder that young Poles carefully choose and consider their profession. After all, what is the point of spending several years at a University, if there is no job to be had once you are finished?
Taking into account that education is not free anymore - as it used to be during the socialist regime - studying a wrong subject can turn out not only a waste of time, but also a very costly proposition.
Martin, 21, a student of computing believes that it is the profession of the future. Possibly medicine is also a good choice. "I don't expect a high salary, but I believe there might be a chance to find a well-paid job abroad." He adds, "As a kid I didn't have a dream job. I simply have chosen a profession that I hope will give a good income. I have always admired people that want to be an actor or a musician, professions where chances of success are small. You need to be passionate about your job to select education like that, but for some people money is not important."
Krzysztof, 20, has chosen to study European administration. "Maybe I could get a job within the EU bureaucracy or as an advisor. The doctor's profession has a future, but it is not for me. I faint, as soon as I see blood. Architecture is another job I believe in. The most important thing is not the profession, but how well you do what you do. Every profession is needed."
Malgosia, 17, wants to become a lawyer. "It is a job with a bright future and I hope I will earn well. Economics is another subject that I think is worthwhile. I wanted to be an actress, but now I think it is a hopeless proposition."
Maks, 22, studies journalism. "I think you can make money in any profession, if you are good at it. I think that economics -management in particular - is a great choice. Information technology is also attractive, but I am not good with computers. On the other hand psychology, which is very popular, does not seem to offer many job opportunities."
Andrzej, 17, has been considering his options: "Lawyer, doctor, computer pro - lawyers make lots of money. But I decided to become a notary. You issue papers that have legal power and get paid well."
According to Danuta, 24, the best choice is to become a barber. "People grow hair all the time," she says. "You can't go wrong with a job like that, but it is hard to get training, often more than five people fight for a single place. She explains: "The Poles spend more money every year on their visits to the barber and many more capable hands are needed."
"You can make from 2,000 to 15,000 PLN," says Marek, 17, still an apprentice. Many Polish barbers find jobs abroad, mainly in Germany and the UK. "But the job is not easy, you need the right attitude, and it is physically demanding," Mark adds. "Of course, only the best will make the big bucks. I suppose, it is like any profession."
According to the statistics in recent years, the most popular professions were administration, finance and banking, but also sociology, psychology and law. Close behind trailed electronics, information technology and transport. Also telecommunications, medicine and pharmacy are very popular. But the chances of getting a job in a legal profession as a lawyer, judge, prosecutor or notary, are slim. "A diploma is not enough, you need also to have contacts within the profession to get to practice," says Anna, 23, a graduate.
According to the polls, the doctor's s profession is the most respected and carries the most responsibility. On the other hand Poles suspect that it is the lawyers that are the ones making the most money. Also teachers and priests enjoy public respect. A job of a politician or administrator at any level brings less respect, but lots of money, believe the Poles. Also private entrepreneurs are believed to get rich.
When it comes to getting a good job in Poland, like everywhere else, it is important to have proper contacts, otherwise even with the best education, you have a very slim chance of finding a job. Still due to a high demand in some professions, some types of jobs are easier to find than others.
Wincenty, 29, unemployed, believes that the best profession today is being an English teacher. "The pay at school is good and one can also give private lessons. Due to high demand it is easy to find a well-paying job up to 5,000 PLN and there's lots of leisure time. On the downside, the competition for university places is stiff. Thus, you might need to bribe someone to let you have a place, unless you are really good at English to start with," he says.
"A notary makes even more, around 10,000 PLN, but it is even harder to become one and you need good connections to be able to attract clients. Easy job, no stress, you get paid for just turning out papers," Wincenty states.
"Also a court judge makes a good living, around 4,000 PLN doing little. A comfortable job, guaranteed state employment. On the downside, it is not easy to get a practice place after studying law, unless you have proper contacts," he warns.
And if you are interested in making lots of money Wincenty recommends health professions like the dentist's with an income around 10,000 PLN. "Although it is hard work, you need also to invest in equipment, and the studies are both long and difficult. Also studying to become a medicine doctor is a good choice. The studies are even harder, but you will make around 8,000 PLN," he muses.
Pharmacist's profession is another Wincenty can recommend: "One makes 2,000-3,000 PLN working in a pharmacy, 5,000-6,000 PLN as a representative. Not too hard education, easy, clean work and as a rep you get to travel."
When it comes to blue-collar jobs Wincenty recommends the profession of an all-round floor layer that makes around 6,000 in Poland and can easily find job abroad for 3000 Euro. It's hard work, but relatively easy job to learn. A few others in the same category that Wincenty approves of: "A qualified builder, electrician, and plumber can earn around 4000 PLN and there is always need for a good tradesman," he says.
Wincenty also states: "I don't recommend any technical jobs like an engineer, computer expert or economist, etc. An undeveloped country like Poland has no big need for those sophisticated professions."
Sylvester, 20, a student of computing, vents similar sentiments: "The studies are very hard and once you finish, without proper contacts, you won't be seeing many job offers. It is a myth that the market is crying for more experts. Even if you know English and several programming languages, it is still not easy."
Mark adds: "if you are a computer professional, learn English and move west. But the studies are very hard and only about 30% finishes. There are always jobs for the best graduates, that pay 3,000-5,000 PLN, but not for the rest. They make only 800 PLN."
This is Polish reality as Poles themselves see it. True, in no country an education guarantees a job. But Poland, as a former socialist country with an outdated economy that cannot compete successfully with the West, has much fewer qualified job opportunities to offer the young generation than other EU countries. It is depressing to see that many young, highly qualified Poles view migration as their only option, which - in the long run - will deprive the country of the brains best needed for its development.