EEA-workers in the UK labour market
In July 2017, the Home Secretary commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to report on the current and likely future patterns of EEA migration and the impacts of that migration on the UK.
One question asked of UK businesses was “why do you employ EEA migrants?”.
The report found that the vast majority of employers do not deliberately seek to fill vacancies with migrant workers. They seek the best available candidate. When an EEA migrant worker gets a job, it is because the employer thinks they are the best, sometimes the only, qualified applicant.
Among the reasons given by employers for why an EEA migrant might be the best candidate for a job, were:
- the necessary skills are scarce among the UK-born workforce;
- migrants often have a higher motivation to work so are more productive and reliable;
- migrants are prepared to do jobs in difficult conditions that the UK-born workforce are not interested in; and/or
- low unemployment means a low supply of UK-born workers.
Attitudes to Possible Restrictions on the Flow of EEA Migrants
Concerns were raised about the prospect of restrictions on the ability to recruit EEA migrants. The Migrant Advisory Committee concluded that it was unsurprising that businesses do not welcome restrictions on their ability to hire, seeing such restrictions as likely to make a difficult task even more difficult.
Employers were fearful about what the future migration system might be. Those higher-skilled sectors which currently use the Tier 2 system to recruit non-EEA migrant workers expressed mostly negative views of that system. Many felt that it was time consuming, costly and overly complex. They were concerned about both the rules and the caps in that system being applied to EEA migrants. Fears about the future migration system were particularly great in lower-skilled sectors where many workers would not be eligible under the existing Tier 2 system and where there have been large increases in the share of EEA migrants since 2004, mostly from the New Member States.
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Author: Prab Dhanhoa