Berry Picking

Ukrainian migrants are a huge source of labor across Europe, making up the largest group of migrant workers on the continent. Every year up to 9 million citizens out of a total population of 42 million work abroad for some part of the year including seasonal farmworkers from Ukraine. Some 3.2 million have regular full-time work outside the country. Even during COVID-19, Ukrainians want to go abroad to work, because they can earn more money for their families than here in Ukraine.

To recruit seasonal farmworkers from Ukraine, the contract should be legal, with a reasonable salary and comfortable housing and transportation. Usually, Ukrainians are responsible, honest, hardworking and they will be glad to have an opportunity to work in farming, forestry, and other spheres.

What types of seasonal workers are available for Ukrainians?

The Internet is simply “teeming” with ads for seasonal work abroad. The most popular destinations are Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, and Germany. Job vacancies in the UK are less common. They offer places on farms. Mostly we are talking about picking greens (dill, parsley, lettuce).

The most popular vacancies are:

  • tractor drivers
  • cherry pickers
  • field workers
  • maintenance staff for farming equipment
  • asparagus pickers
  • forest berry picker

What are the salary expectations for working abroad?

Wage labor involved in the performing of temporary and seasonal work – a fairly common practice for many branches of production and agriculture.

Ukrainians make up the largest group of labor migrants in the European Union. Most of them work in Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, and Germany. They send most of their wages home. According to estimates by the World Bank in 2019, Ukrainians sent home 16 billion USD. This is 10% of Ukraine's GDP.

The salary ranges from 1000 – 1500 EUR/month. It depends on the conditions and the number of working hours.

Also, there are a lot of recruiting agencies where the candidate is paying for the employment process and for all necessary documents and flying tickets and then even for housing. So you always have to be sure regarding all the aspects of the position that you are applying for.

How to find the best seasonal workers in Ukraine?

Usually, the best workers don't look for a job actively. They either have a long contract with one of the employers, or they work with a recruiter company.

However, seasonal work abroad from the summer of 2020 was under threat. Quarantine prompted changes and now it is quite difficult to leave Ukraine. Europe is already sounding the alarm, because the harvest without Ukrainian workers may fail.

If you want to find responsible and hardworking people for your vacancy, you need to put advertising first on the major job posts of the country. Fully describe all requirements and conditions of the vacancy.

But if you want to save your time and find the best workers, the best way is to contact a recruiter company and describe the vacancy. The recruiters will find the required workforce in a short amount of time.

What are the specific requirements/preferences of Ukrainian seasonal farmworkers?

The candidates are paying attention to the vacancies which provide a clear description of the requirements for the position, the amount of salary (net), and the conditions (processing of the documents, and accommodation).

Good advertisement text will help you to save time, nerves, to attract the attention of the candidates that you need, and (last but not least!) not to attract the attention of anyone who does not suit you.

According to surveys, the checklist for the most important job and company information looks like this:

1. Description of the work itself

Seriously, this is one of the details often dropped. Some requirements describe what you need to be able to do, there are benefits – a list of what a successful candidate will receive.

Describe in a couple of sentences how the employee's work will look like, indicating 5 key responsibilities. This will help your posting become clearer as to the kind of person you are looking for.

2. Salary

This is key information job seekers needed when making a decision. Surprisingly, only 22% of companies in the world provide information on employee salaries. Instead of going through a wave of candidates, indicating the salary will help you find the right hire. 

3. Conditions

Candidates want to know what special privileges they will receive. If you provide paperwork, moving, accommodation, do not write about it at the very end – discuss it in the middle of the post.

4. Ideal candidate

33% of candidates want to know who the best candidate should be, whom you would hire almost without looking.

All candidates hope to know this information at the onset. Getting such information about the positions in your company is convenient. This sequence discussed will help increase the quantity and, hopefully, the quality of the response.

What is the housing and living condition?

Of course, all seasonal workers want to go to work with nice accommodation provided. The best conditions provided by the employer will definitely get the candidates for this position the attention you need for this vacancy. An ideal one is a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, with bathroom, where workers will live for 2 people in 1 room max.

Most seasonal workers are working abroad illegally now, so they don't have any warranties regarding living conditions. According to many surveys on the Internet, every 5th labor migrant noted the terrible living conditions they're in. Poor living conditions in Europe were reported by 19% of respondents, in Russia – 30%. Housing is usually provided by the employer for a small amount or free of charge. Workers live in dormitories or trailers for two or four people. Sometimes workers are offered single rooms, but for a fee.

How to manage Ukrainian farmworkers abroad if they do not speak a foreign language?

Each employer abroad understands that the seasonal farmworkers most probably don't know their language even on the intermediate level. Usually, they mention in the vacancy, that the candidates need to know at least the English language, but still may not find an appropriate one. That's why they hire an interpreter or manager who can explain where to go and what to do. It can be a representative of the company of the employer or (most often) a representative from the recruiter company, who is looking for staff for this employer, who is taking an additional fee for that.

If you see that there is no representative who can speak your native language and you don't know the language of the employer, it's better to clarify this before you'll go abroad.

Which countries are competing for Ukrainian seasonal farmworkers and how do they compare?

The most popular countries for seasonal work are Poland, Italy, Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, and Germany. There are also job vacancies in the UK, but they are less common.

Over the past month, the number of offers for work abroad has grown by 21%. This is evidenced by the data from the Jooble portal, published on the Opendatabot service.

Job openings at Jooble rose from 7,756 at the end of September to 9,384 at the end of October. Back in early June, the number of vacancies was 6,717.

Most of all Ukrainian workers were looking for Poland, Germany, and the Czech Republic. In Poland, the greatest demand was for Ukrainian packers, bricklayers, roofers, laborers, and C / E category drivers (trucks).

In Germany, they are looking for Ukrainian nurses, with knowledge of the B1 language. Vacancies for plasterers, production workers, and drivers are also available.

In the Czech Republic, they are looking for builders, plumbers, handymen at a car plant, metal painters, and maids mostly from Ukraine.

“Every autumn we observe the seasonal activity. This year Poland is the leader in the number of offers. If it were not for the coronavirus epidemic, then, probably, the flow of seekers and the number of vacancies would have been even greater,” said Alena Kirilyevnina, Jooble's head of work with partners.

What are the common mistakes in hiring and managing Ukrainian seasonal farmworkers?

Apparently, the most common reason for hiring mistakes is a misjudgment. The candidate misjudges the company and position. And the specialist in charge of hiring staff misjudges the candidate. Why is this happening?

The candidate sometimes does not think if a certain company fits him. The only criterion they'd consider is the salary. Finding himself in the wrong company in the wrong position, he suddenly discovers that besides the salary, there are many more things to consider. And this at times makes the life of an employee unbearable.

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