The aim of this blog post is to raise questions about the migrant workers and how it is perceived that they take British worker jobs. Would it really be better for Britain’s economy to forbid entrance to migrants?
To begin lets imagine a young couple from Latvia. During the last recession Latvia experienced the EU’s largest and fastest increase in unemployment. The unemployment rate rose by almost 14 % from 6.2% in early 2008 to 20.4% at the end of 2009. However, labour market recovery has not been equally rapid (Anosova et al., 2012). Thus they decide to emigrate, somewhere they can have better life. As UK has better employment prospects, higher average standard of living as well as free healthcare it seems as a very good choice. With the appropriate skills, their job options are many, ranging from professorship to hospitality work to managerial positions. Together, they can support themselves along with their family back home. However because they are migrants they are constantly accused of taking “our” jobs, jobs that supposedly should only go to British workers. This actually forms one of the main arguments used to support legislation that limits and reduces immigration. So the question is how does immigrant labour benefit the United Kingdom if there are fewer jobs for the British?
By looking at statistics we can see that 50.2% of the UK working population has finished education at age 16 or under, while 53.6% of new migrants have obtained university level education that equates to 41.1% of all migrants (Centre for Economic Performance, 2013). In consequence it is visible that a larger proportion of migrants obtain a higher level of education than UK born citizens. Let’s think back to the couple, statistically it is very likely that they are well-educated and skilled – essential aspect to which we need to pay attention to when considering what benefits do migrant labour bring with it, as it does take years to educate and train people. For this reason for example when 532,000 citizens migrated to the UK in 2013 (Ons.gov.uk, 2014), UK did definitely benefit from the labour of these educated and skilled workers instantly, without having to wait for the existing UK population to be trained and educated.
Migrants prevented the shortage of workers in professions such as lectureship (this I can corroborate also as I myself have several non-UK born professors at university) that evidently requires high level of knowledge. In conclusion, migrant workforce means more workers with high expertise and relevant experience that obviously leads to a superior human capital that is more competitive as well as efficient. Migrants do create a more competitive environment for sure, but that does not mean less jobs for British does it!?
Anosova, D., Sonin, K., Vanags, A., Zasova, A. (2012). Latvia’s unemployment is cyclical. [online] Available from: http://freepolicybriefs.org/2012/12/10/the-latvian-unemployment-is-cyclical/ (Accessed on: 12.04.2015).
Centre for Economic Performance. (2013). Immigration, the European Union and the UK Labour Market. [online] Available from: http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/pa015.pdf (Accessed on: 19.04.2015).
Ons.gov.uk (2014). Net migration to the UK has increased, according to latest estimates. [online] Available from: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/migration1/migration-statistics-quarterly-report/february-2014/sty-ltim.html (Accessed on: 12.04.2015).