Over 200,000 foreigners leaving the UK, government needs to act fast

Immigrants finding it tough in the UK, with the economic conditions fragile and lack in employment opportunities





Tags: IPPR, OECD, Ernst & Young Item Club, Phil Woolas


7th August 2009: A day after the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) recommended incentives for the migrants to prevent their ‘re-migration’ to countries like China and India, official figures have brought to the fore the need for the government to act fast.

The official figures reveal as many as 200,000 foreigners are bidding adieu to the United Kingdom (UK) annually due to cut in job opportunities.

It is apparent that the immigrants are finding it tough even in the UK, with the economic conditions fragile and lack in employment opportunities.

The statistics come at a time when it is clear that Britain’s recovery from the recession is likely to be hit by a fall in the number of immigrant workers. In fact, a group of economic forecasters hold that the reduction in their numbers threatens to create skills shortages and hold back the recovery.

Reports suggest the impact of shortage of qualified staff will reflect itself not only on gross domestic product growth, but also threaten to obstruct efforts to rebalance the economy, with more manufacturing and less financial and other services.

In fact, the Ernst & Young Item Club, with companies from a range of industry sectors as members, only recently asserted the economy’s dependence on imported labour was underlined by Financial Times’ research showing foreign-born workers were proving more successful at holding on to jobs in the recession than their British-born counterparts.

By now it also is apparent the migrants are needed to help resolve the long-term problems of skills shortages and an ageing society.

Keeping this in mind, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has already urged the government not to use the economic downturn as a ground for closing the door to foreign workers.

The UK Government has also been advised to maintain a flexible system that allows migrant workers to come into the country in order to meet the needs of British industry.

As of now, more and more immigrants to the United Kingdom are staying for a short time and then leaving. The IPPR report suggests outflow in the last couple of years is close to 400,000. Major findings from the report — “Shall we stay or Shall we Go: Re-migration trends among Britain‘s immigrants” — are: More than 3 million immigrants to the United Kingdom in the last thirty years have subsequently left – around half the total

The report also finds: The size of the exodus is increasing, with more than 190,000 leaving in 2007 – a number that is likely to be exceeded in 2008. It also says short stay migration is a growing phenomenon; the number of immigrants spending less than four years in the United Kingdom doubled between 1996 and 2007.

As many as 85 per cent of the migrants currently in the United Kingdom, who took part in an on-line survey, said they were only planning to stay short term.

The research in 5 countries showed migrants tend to come to the UK for economic reasons, but leave for personal reasons. The migrants who are most likely to leave are those with high skills, good education and low barriers to movement. These people are becoming increasingly ‘super mobile’.

The report’s policy recommendations to the Government include: Taking more active steps to encourage some migrants to stay longer in the UK through using the points based system, retention schemes, simplified visa extensions and tax incentives.

The report also recommends piloting and promoting Migration Information Centres and ‘Circular Migration’ schemes so that short stay migration is better managed; ensuing the migrant integration strategies take into account the increasing amount of short stay migration; and improving links with former immigrants to the UK and treating them as a ‘secondary diaspora’ which could be regarded as an economic and diplomatic asset.

Phil Woolas, Borders and Immigration Minister, said: ‘This report further demonstrates that migrants come to the UK for a short period of time, work, contribute to the economy and then return home. Our new flexible points based system gives us greater control on those coming to work or study from outside Europe, ensuring that only those that Britain need can come.

‘This week I announced proposals which will break the link between temporary settlement and permanent residence. Only those that who earn the right to stay should be allowed a British passport.’


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