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Edmund Nuttall looks east

AGENDA

CIVIL engineering contractor Edmund Nuttall has been among the first companies to capitalise on European Union expansion by carrying out a recruitment drive for engineers in Poland.

The company employed an agency to pre-screen candidates earlier this year and has two new Polish site engineers joining this week.

Nuttall looked to eastern Europe following three successful recruitment campaigns in South Africa. The Polish recruits will be mentored by a fellow countryman now working as a site engineer on Nuttall's £55 million Caxton Common to Hardwick road project in Cambridgeshire for the Highways Agency. He began working for the company back in November 2002.

Recruitment manager Tony Jay said: 'There's no doubt that eastern Europe offers a whole new market for us that we can take advantage of. Since we've been out there, I've been contacted by three or fou r more agencies as well.

'I'd be surprised if other companies weren't looking out there.

'We help them settle in: explain the company to them, cultural differences, and things like setting up bank accounts.

'We tend to look at those in their late 20s or early 30s.

'They're paid the same rate as everybody else so they're attracted by the salaries, although they probably don't take into account the higher cost of living over here as well.' He added: 'There is potentially a lot more work to come with things like the Olympics and Crossrail in the pipeline so we will need all the engineers we can get.' Ironically, one of the benefits for the accession countries in joining the EU ? vast inf luxes of funding for infrastructure and regeneration ? could affect the prospects for British firms looking to attract foreign skills.

Mr Jay said: 'It might only be a short-term fix. There's so much work going on in Poland that the supply of good quality engineers could dry up pretty quickly.'