Equalities guru Trevor Phillips has called on employers to bear the cost of migrant workers’ English classes.
Forty years on from the notorious Enoch Powell speech that slated the then government’s immigration policy, the head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has said he believed “it is right” that migrants have access to free English lessons when they come to the UK to work.
Speaking to mark the 40th anniversary of Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, Phillips questioned to what extent employers, migrants and settled communities should share the costs of increased immigration.
“The government has recently acknowledged this by suggesting that while English lessons might be made free for those who intend to settle here, it is right that those who come just to work – the ‘easymigrant’ – and their employers should bear the cost of their English classes. I believe that this is right.”
Phillips made his remarks in a speech in Birmingham on Sunday, the same city where the Tory right-winger Powell originally gave his speech to a Conservative association meeting.
Phillips added: “The other major issue is the question of why employers should invest in training and skills for home-grown workers when they can get the ready-made thing from abroad? Easyjet delivers easymigrant to your door with all his or her skills, readiness to work over the hours and probably a university degree to boot. How can our million or so young people who are not in education, employment or training possibly compete?”
He is also pledged to meet employers in the future to work to eradicate illegal trafficking and exploitation of migrant workers.