Immigration laws and policies have been the source of major debate throughout the last year in the United Kingdom, with pressure mounting as the next election approaches. Measures have been taken to reduce the amount of migration to the United Kingdom through the enactment of harsher laws and regulations to increase immigration compliance in the United Kingdom. Public leaders such as the Prime Minister have publicly stated their goals to reduce net migration to the country by 2015. The conservative party has pushed to enact a change to the European Union’s principle of free movement citing the concern many British citizens have that increased immigration into the United Kingdom has contributed to increased unemployment among the British youth.
A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that almost 25% of employers who participated in the survey believe that the presence of a large EU migrant workforce does negatively impact the job opportunities for young people.However, the survey also reveals that migrant workers tend to have more work experience than young people in the United Kingdom. Employers participating in the survey stated there were not enough applicants to fill positions in the local market and that they had difficulty finding candidates from the United Kingdom to fill positions categorized as unskilled or semi-skilled. The CIPD suggests that increased migration to the United Kingdom is only one factor to consider among many when it comes to youth unemployment. In particular, it suggests the importance of making greater efforts to provide better guidance and opportunities to young people in the United Kingdom to level the playing field by providing them with the skills necessary to compete in the local market. While the survey confirms some of the overarching concerns of increased migration to the United Kingdom, it also challenges some of the assumptions of why foreign workers are hired by employers. Most significantly, the survey revealed that not only are employers making rational business decisions when hiring foreign workers based on skills available in the local market and the breadth of experience the foreign workers possess, but businesses that have EU migrant workers are more likely to have grown throughout the last two years.