EHRC: `UK is not making the most of migrants’ skills’
19 January 2010: A report by the Migration Policy Institute says Eastern European migrants, who came to the UK during the past six years, have made a "small but positive" contribution to the economy. In all, their number is estimated to be 1.5 million.
The report commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) also says, the UK is not making the most of migrants’ skills, as many were taking low-skilled jobs.
Acting group director of strategy at the EHRC Andrea Murray says Eastern European workers have provided a boost to Britain’s economy, though more than half of them have now returned home.
Even though they are over-educated for many roles, they were willing to take on jobs that many other workers do not wish to do.
Low-skilled, low-paid jobs were important to the British economy, yet the education level of the migrants underscored that Britain may not be making the most of the talents they offer.
Elaborating, the research says about half of the migrant workers who came to the UK since it opened its borders in 2004 have returned home. As such, most of those who remained back are in unskilled occupations.
It says the presence of Eastern European workers has caused the lowest-paid people in the UK to be paid even less.
As a result, the recent migration may have reduced wages slightly at the bottom end of the labour market, especially for certain groups of vulnerable workers.
The report also suggests there was a risk that recent migration could contribute to low-skill equilibrium in some economically depressed local areas.
During the recession unemployment rates for Eastern European migrant workers remained significantly below those for British-born workers, often because they were paid less, but were seen as hard-working, the report said.
Related articles: Sharp fall in number of Eastern European immigrants