Foreign nationals make up workforce shortfall

The number of foreign nationals working in the UK has
increased by a fifth since 1992, research reveals.


A report by the Migration Research Unit at University
College London shows that between 1992 and 2000 the number of foreign nationals
working in the UK rose from 900,000 to about 1.1m. It finds that the UK labour
force would have suffered serious shortages of professional and managerial
workers if there had been no immigration in the past 25 years.


Nearly 380,000 UK professionals and managers left the labour
market over his period but this was more than offset by a net inflow of 387,000
foreign workers of equivalent grades.


The research shows that between 1975 and 1999 there was a
net loss of 371,000 UK clerical and manual workers from the workforce, which
has only been partly offset by a net gain of 218,000 non-British workers of the
same categories.


However, this has changed over the last decade. The net
inflow of non-British manuals and clericals exceeded the outflow of British
workers leaving the labour market between 1990 and 1999.


John Salt, director of the Migration and Research Unit at
University College London, said the figures show the big increase in labour
migration was in the second half of the 1990s. He believes this is because
there has been an explosion in the global skills market, as well as a change in
Government policy.


Salt said, "Countries are competing in a global
migration market for skills. Countries like Australia and the US have realised
their economies can benefit if they have a high level of skills and other
countries in Europe are beginning to realise the same thing."


By Ben Willmott

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