Today, the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford published a report focusing on the highly skilled migration to the UK in 2007 – 2013. According to the report the ‘best and brightest oversea workers’ are being kept out of the UK. The number of highly skilled recent migrant workers (RMW) decreased between 2007 and 2013. This has been speculated to be down to the number of immigration policy changes. For instance the introduction of the Point-Based System (PBS), by the Labour Government in 2008 and policies to decrease net migration to the “tens of thousands” by the coalition Government in 2011.
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva: Decline in the Number of Recent Migrant Workers in the UK
According to the report, there has been a decline of 28% in the number of non-EEA highly skilled RMW in the UK since 2007. However, there has been a 53% rise within the EEA, with skilled migrants coming from countries such as France, Germany and Spain.
The number of non-EEA highly skilled RMW have shown to be the most effected by the Government’s policy to decrease to tens of thousands. The figures show highly skilled migration decreased by 30%, from 155,000 in 2007 to 109,000 in 2010. This number decreased by a further 39% in 2013 to 94,000, in comparison to 2007.
Dr Carlos Vargas-Silva, co-author of the report said:
“There has been a significant decline in the number of recent migrant workers in the UK who have the highest levels of education and who are in top occupations since 2007, but this decline is driven by a decrease in non-EEA migration. Since 2011 the number of these recent migrant workers who are from EEA countries has increased. Policy makers need to look at whether this has been caused by a “balloon effect” where policies designed to squeeze one sort of migration lead to another sort increasing in size.”
Immigration Policy changes and highly skilled workers
There have been a number of immigration policy changes in the period covering 2007 – 2013. The report has split these changes into two broad categories;
- The introduction of the Point-Based System in 2008, which aimed to “attract the brightest and the best from across the world, while at the same time being more robust against abuse”; and
- The UK Governments net migration target to decrease to less than 100,000, so that the UK is at a level the country can manage.
The number of highly-skilled migrants who had been in the UK less than three years fell from 270,000 to 242,000 between 2011 and 2013.
Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors, expressed his concern:
“I think it should cause real soul-searching in the Home Office because [their] intransigence on this issue is damaging the UK economy. They see their role to keep people out rather than to serve the broad economic needs of the UK as a whole.”
The coalition Government has also been strongly criticised for their net migration target, proving to be damaging to the higher education sector in the UK. International students bring in an estimated £8bn a year to the UK and predicting the total investment will double by 2025. However, this prediction has been put into doubt, as international students have started looking to study in other countries due to the new restrictions.
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