Recent research by the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) has revealed that recruiting skilled migrants from abroad allows companies to become more efficient and expand their businesses. These findings follow research by the government which shows that foreigners are filling a fifth of jobs in key industries such as engineering due to a lack of skills in the UK. This fuels the debate about whether British born workers have the work ethic and skills to compete with their foreign counterparts in an increasingly international labour market.
NIESR Research: Need for Skilled Migration is Widely Accepted
NIESR’s research concentrates on the long term connection between migration and productivity. In doing so it fills a gap in knowledge about the impact of migration on the UK economy, labour markets and workplaces. Research was conducted by collecting evidence from employers and the general public and a conclusion was reached after analysing quantitative data on migration and productivity.
The report found that workers in the UK have been positive about working alongside migrants and have benefited from working alongside them in a number of ways. Some have said that it has helped them to look at and understand work-related issues from a different perspective.
Heather Rolfe, one of the researchers stated:
‘We hear a lot about public opinion and concern about migration, but our findings suggest that the need for skilled migration is more widely accepted than is often believed. People enjoy working alongside migrants and feel they personally benefit in terms of their own skills and the services they are able to provide.’
NIESR Report: Summary of Research on UK Migration & Productivity
- employers recruited from outside the UK for 3 main reasons; where the supply of skills within the UK is deficient; to recruit high level skills which are in short supply worldwide; and to complement the skills of non-migrants;
- focus group participants perception of a migrant worker was of an Eastern European in low skilled, low paid work. This was at odds with the views of employers in the research, who saw skilled migration as most important in meeting their needs. While some participants held views which were opposed to immigration, their views about skilled migration were much more positive; and
- Recruitment from overseas allowed employers to fill skilled and specialist roles and enabled some organisations to expand. While accepting that some specialist posts are difficult to fill, focus group participants also believed that skills shortages resulted from an unwillingness to work among some sections of the UK population.
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