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Poland's Lost Generation


poland_
17 Apr 2011 #1
Poland is still ruled by the generation of politicians who started their careers fighting communism in the 1980s. Romantic ideals of Poland as a "Christ of nations" and history of national suffering under Russian oppression is being forgotten.

Millions of young Poles now have experience of living and working in the west. Will they come back? And if they do, will they transform the country? The homeland needs them - but also fears and loathes them. And, of course, all the good jobs are already taken

The young generation is puzzling. They are open-minded and self-reliant. (Almost 2 million Poles, most of them young, have emigrated west since 2004, when Poland joined the European Union.) Almost half are graduates. Yet they do not expect much from life. According to a recent poll for Gazeta Wyborcza almost 70% of Poles aged 19- 26 are ready to move out of their native town to get a good job. They are ready to work for - on average - less than €600 a month. One in five of them would accept any job. But the jobs are not there: almost half a million under the age of 26 are unemployed.

antheads 13 | 344
17 Apr 2011 #2
Good points and i agree that polish youth are quite materialistic and conservative but what can one expect after the fall of communisim? There is a difference between the poles who leave and those that choose to say. I think the ones who emigrate and then come back have more desire to transform poland as they have seen what is possible overseas.

While less than in western countries, there are people who want to change poland socially and politically.

I like these guys.


chichimera 1 | 186
17 Apr 2011 #3
Will they come back?

Many will certainly do.

Yet they do not expect much from life.

They're being practical, I guess. What it is "to expect much" according to you? Some time ago I had the opportunity to speak to an almost 100 years old Polish man - according to him to have a job, food, a decent place to live and to live in the times of peace is an equivalent of success. What percentage of people living on Earth today can expect all the basic needs of life fulfilled?

They don't dream about rebelling and changing the world

Because they don't see any need for rebellion. Those who see the need, dream of it

They are deeply suspicious of collective action: all solutions to their problems are private

Well done; if it's true, I'm proud of them - individualistic approach is the victory of independent way of thinking

So far they seem to be, unfortunately, the lost generation

?? I don't see it from what you said. From your post I picture a group of people with a healthy system of values, who are pretty enterprising and who reckon themselves able to respond to the challenges of life
rybnik 18 | 1,462
17 Apr 2011 #4
The homeland needs them - but also fears and loathes them.

fears and loathes them? very strong language. why are they feared and loathed and by whom?

The young generation is puzzling.

They really aren't that puzzling at all. They're young and ambitious; they're goals are that of any well-educated, well-informed group of young people. They know what they want. Unfortunately, their homeland can't give it to them at the moment. So, they go where they perceive are greener pastures( similar to the Indian exodus)....They expect a lot out of life! They expect the things that their parents could only dream of. I think the older generation should be careful in its accusations of the younger. Most of this generation's wanderlust is a direct result of tata's and babcia's PRL memories...Remember, the ones that do come back will be the ones that'll take Poland into the future :)
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #5
From your post I picture a group of people with a healthy system of values, who are pretty enterprising and who reckon themselves able to respond to the challenges of life

Interesting, I see a generation of people who have forgotten about the values given to them by their parents, who know search for the American dream, and have no interest about anything else except how much they can get. Hence " The lost generation" Furthermore 95% of Poles that come back to Poland after working outside of PL, find it difficult to accept lower salaries and longer working hours.The other 5% are head hunted for specialist jobs

ones that'll take Poland into the future

If I was a betting man, I would place a wager with you on this point, the ones that come back make the mistake of thinking they are going to make change, only to realize that things have moved on without them and it is difficult to get back in the game.
sobieski 107 | 2,128
17 Apr 2011 #6
Romantic ideals of Poland as a "Christ of nations" and history of national suffering under Russian oppression is being forgotten.

Good they forget this. It is time that all these sentimental memories will be just that. Memories. "Christ of nations". The arrogance seeping from that Radio Marija language.
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #7
Enculturation is the process where the culture that is currently established teaches an individual the accepted norms and values of the culture or society in which the individual lives. The individual can become an accepted member and fulfill the needed functions and roles of the group. Most importantly the individual knows and establishes a context of boundaries and accepted behavior that dictates what is acceptable and not acceptable within the framework of that society. It teaches the individual their role within society as well as what is accepted behavior within that society and lifestyle"
Ice cold - | 43
17 Apr 2011 #8
warszawski

will they transform the country?

It's already in motion. If you read through some of these threads, not only are they returning, but bringing their new mates with them. Americans, Irish, Brits, Islanders etc.

Eventually, all will be involved at some level.
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #9
Only a small percentage I would guesstimate no more than 25% of foreign immigrants, that come to PL in search of a better life will succeed, life is difficult, opportunities are limited, there is no government assistance/benefits ( as the UK/Ireland) also the severe winter conditions take its toll. Having lived in PL for many years, I would say if you are a looking for an easy life in PL, the opportunity has passed you by, either make sure you have a job to start or you have plenty of money in the bank, to support yourself for the first 12 months.

If you read through some of these threads

Once again I would say to you the majority of posters on Polishforum, have absolutely no idea about Polish reality, I would say no more than 25-30% of the posters here, contribute information that could be considered accurate circa 2011.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
17 Apr 2011 #10
It's way too soon! You need to give it at Least a generation. I bet the vast majority or returnees were unsuccessful in their adopted countries.
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #11
Poland is no longer as easy as it was 10 years , all the goods positions are taken and unless you are arriving with a full expat package, it will be difficult to adjust.
Ice cold - | 43
17 Apr 2011 #12
all the goods positions are taken

This is where entrepreneurship comes into play. That "small %" you're referring to can have great impact.
Only 2 people started Google.
chichimera 1 | 186
17 Apr 2011 #13
I see a generation of people who have forgotten about the values given to them by their parents, who know search for the American dream, and have no interest about anything else except how much they can get

I've got completely different impressions from talking to young Poles - they are still very Polish, and very conscious of what in the western culture is worth following and what's not. Having experienced life in the West they realize what should be changed in Poland, but also what is worth preserving, because they find it more valuable than the western substitutes. Obviously there are some with entirely materialistic attitude - but it's not like the attitude was totally foreign to the previous generations.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
17 Apr 2011 #14
This is where entrepreneurship comes into play. That "small %" you're referring to can have great impact.
Only 2 people started Google.

Exactly my point! Their will be a percentage, albeit small, of returning expats brimming with confidence AND experience. They will be the ones startin-up companies and employing the next generation(as in India for example). I'm very optimistic I'm afraid :)
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #15
This is where entrepreneurship comes into play. That "small %" you're referring to can have great impact.
Only 2 people started Google.

That is a weak argument, Google was successful, because of the timing and secondly as an American company in the dot.com age, VC'S and Angels where throwing money at start ups. Poland does not have the same infrastructure of VC's as the US, now is a period of austerity and will be so for the next decade. Ask yourself a question why do all the main players of social media and internet marketing come out of the states...

As far as Entrepreneurs are concerned, Poland was a nation of them in the nineties, but that was then and this is now.

Exactly my point! Their will be a percentage, albeit small, of returning expats brimming with confidence AND experience

You guys just don't get it, if you want to start something up in Poland now. with a hope of succeeding- you need at least US 200,000 or forget. Poland is no longer as cheap as it once was.
hubabuba - | 113
17 Apr 2011 #16
why would we want to change anything? I "tried" the west- didnt like it. We just need better economy, and it is growing so hurray!!!
chichimera 1 | 186
17 Apr 2011 #17
Exactly :)
I think many of the young migrants feel similarly - we are not too impressed by what we've seen in the West, so we are perfectly happy with Poland being not so very Western
southern 75 | 7,096
17 Apr 2011 #18
we are not too impressed by what we've seen in the West

What exactly did you not like in the West?
rybnik 18 | 1,462
17 Apr 2011 #19
Warszawski, I'm afraid you're not getting my point, which is: there will come a time when experienced, developed Polish minds come back to Poland with ideas. These ideas will be underwritten by venture capitalists. The resulting companies will employ Polish youth.....You don't see that as a distinct possibility?
SeanBM 35 | 5,808
17 Apr 2011 #20
They don't dream about rebelling and changing the world. They are deeply suspicious of collective action: all solutions to their problems are private.

Sounds good to me :)

I view this differently, take an average Polish family living in a house with 4/5 generations altogether in the countryside (most Poles are from the countryside).

Their grandparents and parents are probably VERY politically minded, full of stories and suspicions from the SB and Smolensk.
And all you want to do is be able to live in your own house with a job you can bear and a few quid so you can have a family and your own life (but not too far away from your family:).

Nothing ''lost'' about it, it's as natural as chicks leaving the nest.

they leave it to rot.

I also disagree with the harshness you put on them.
Wanting a better life for yourself is perfectly normal.

PL has just made cheap, educated labour its main export.

Don't forget that that 'export' was sending back billions making up part of Poland's GDP.
People who are forced into emigration for work are hardly likely to love their adopted country.
Of the Polish people I met in Ireland and London most want to move back to Poland after they get a few quid together, fair enough. Many won't because at that stage they will have new lives but I think most will.

Whereas most of the immigrants who live in Poland were not forced to come here to find a job but by choice.

I would say the "lost generation" are the moherowy beret, their world has been completely changed from Communism to Capitalism and extreme religiosity.
Ice cold - | 43
17 Apr 2011 #21
because of the timing

When entrepreneurs see a need in an under served market, the time is always NOW!
Startup capital can be raised anywhere in the world for the proper idea/product.

Poland is political stable, centrally located, EU member and has relatively inexpensive educated workforce.
All attractive to outside investors.

Having worked abroad in multinationals, many returning Poles will understand how to navigate through the obstacles or create parallel systems of the west. ( $200,000 is not a lot of money to raise by the way)
OP poland_
17 Apr 2011 #22
When entrepreneurs see a need in an under served market, the time is always NOW!
Startup capital can be raised anywhere in the world for the proper idea/product.

Having worked closely with entrepreneurs for over 10 years. In my opinion what entrepreneurs see is financial gain, it is always easier to work with someone else's money, than your own. For every one successful startup another 10-15 fail.

( $200,000 is not a lot of money to raise by the way)

No it is not, but a VC is not going to touch a company until it is in product stage. So the first round of $ 200,000 is going to have to come from friends and family.

I think many of the young migrants feel similarly - we are not too impressed by what we've seen in the West, so we are perfectly happy with Poland being not so very Western

I drove to the Ukraine two months ago and will never complain about Polish roads again. Hindsight is 20-20.
Ice cold - | 43
17 Apr 2011 #23
For every one successful startup another 10-15 fail.

Every successful business was a risk for someone at startup.
Old or new, none can guarantee a profit.
The local business page has dozens of Chapter 7 listings every week.

But..it doesn't stop new people from trying and I'm sure it will be the same for Poland.

Nature abhors stagnation and kills off anything that can't adapt.
The free market mimics nature in this regard.
OP poland_
18 Apr 2011 #24
Nature abhors stagnation and kills off anything that can't adapt.
The free market mimics nature in this regard.

We find something we agree on.

Whereas most of the immigrants who live in Poland were not forced to come here to find a job but by choic

SeanBM, that is changing now, most of the immigrants are arriving from Ireland and UK, with their Polish girlfriends/boyfriends wives/husbands in search of greener pastures.
Grzegorz_ 51 | 6,163
18 Apr 2011 #25
Poles were made ni**ers in their own country. We work for western companies (harder than westerners and for 20% of their wages) buy in foreign owned retail chains, keep money and take loans from foreign banks and the trend continues, soon we will even buy electricity from foreign companies. Traitors installed to govern this country sold us out. Poles were made the proletariat class with no property/capital and It will be extremely difficult to change that. We work for pennies and the profits goes abroad. It is not a lost generation, It is a lost nation.

That is a weak argument, Google was successful, because of the timing and secondly as an American company in the dot.com age, VC'S and Angels where throwing money at start ups. Poland does not have the same infrastructure of VC's as the US, now is a period of austerity and will be so for the next decade. Ask yourself a question why do all the main players of social media and internet marketing come out of the states...

Very true. The same people would have ended up working for 3000 złoty a month If they had been living in Poland. Facebook is even better example. They invented nothing. It's all about utilization of capital.

As far as Entrepreneurs are concerned, Poland was a nation of them in the nineties, but that was then and this is now.

You guys just don't get it, if you want to start something up in Poland now. with a hope of succeeding- you need at least US 200,000 or forget. Poland is no longer as cheap as it once was.

Spot on.
Bzibzioh
18 Apr 2011 #26
I would say the "lost generation" are the moherowy beret, their world has been completely changed from Communism to Capitalism and extreme religiosity

Don't be so hard on moherowe berety; they survived the war and communism, now they are finding very difficult to understand a new reality. Religion is but the only thing that stayed the same so they cling to it desperately.

I don't think the young Polish people are a "lost generation". They are more pragmatic and less romantic. No adequate job in Poland right now? I will go abroad to get one. I will save to buy myself a new apartment, a car and some toys and I will come back. I attended a wedding last year in Poland, and half of the bride's girlfriends came from the UK. That was their attitude and there is nothing wrong with that. It's better than if they stayed home, unemployed, depressed and getting into trouble.
chichimera 1 | 186
18 Apr 2011 #27
What exactly did you not like in the West?

To me life over here resembles a huge community home :) Everything here has been bought and everything organized; and nothing's left to discover.

You go from England to Wales and you see the very same shops in every town. Let's say every morning you drink coffee at the cafe, you go on holiday to another part of the country and you want to see different places and maybe try different coffee - but no, over there they have the same cafes selling exactly the same coffee. It's a counterfeit of choice - it looks like there was plenty to choose from, but really you can have only either Starbucks or Costa coffee, that's it. It's the same with clothes - all shops sell similar clothes. The same with clubs - same dead boring music in every club.

My colleague told me her husband spends £60 a week on his hobby, which is cycling. I thought cycling was one of the cheapest hobbies one can have - all you need to pay for is the bike. But not here, apparently, because they have organized the hobby and you must pay to the organizers. People don't swim in rivers and lakes like in backward Poland, but they prefer crowded swimming pools. I find it too stressful - over combative kids attack me to win territory..

Sometime ago I read on this forum someone complaining about lack of decent footpaths in the countryside in Poland. Actually, I miss that very much. I miss going on a trip and having that little adventure and the sense of freedom, not feeling as if I was walking through a city pleasure ground

I don't want Poland to develop in this direction, I like our rough and tumble ways of living
OP poland_
18 Apr 2011 #28
These ideas will be underwritten by venture capitalists. The resulting companies will employ Polish youth.....You don't see that as a distinct possibility?

Yes it will eventually happen, but the VC'S will not be Polish, they will be American,British and German.

Polish youth,brought up during a period of market restoration, bought into the demands and promises of the new system. They have educated themselves like no other generation in the country's history. However, new Polish capitalism has been unable to offer them the jobs and life-styles that their efforts deserve. Around 2 million, mainly young, Poles have emigrated since Poland entered the EU - which has created a social safety valve in a country still plagued by very high unemployment and low wages. However, especially without an accompanying policy of encouraging immigration, this is creating large social and cultural problems as the country's population ages and de-skills.
rybnik 18 | 1,462
18 Apr 2011 #29
especially without an accompanying policy of encouraging immigration, this is creating large social and cultural problems as the country's population ages and de-skills.

We call that a "brain drain".
hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
18 Apr 2011 #30
Almost 2 million Poles, most of them young, have emigrated west since 2004, when Poland joined the European Union.)

Seems like an unusually high number, almost million sounds plausible, 2 million though how did they get that statistic?

Provided that the majority of them return with some valuable experience then things should work out for the better.


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