Recruitment agencies have been caught operating an ‘immigrants only’ policy in one major city, a report out today has revealed.
A study of migrant workers in Bristol and Hull by research organisation Centre for Cities found that in Hull, migrants are “unofficially” channelled through ‘Polish only’ recruitment agencies to work in factory work, particularly food processing and packaging.
The report, which comes as the total number of unemployed people in the UK is expected to top two million this week, is likely to fuel the row over “British jobs for British workers”.
The report said: “[In Hull] unless you were Eastern European, recruitment agencies were unlikely to put you on their books. This may have prevented the same vacancies being advertised to local people.”
However, the research, conducted between October 2008 and January 2009, found previously ‘hard to fill jobs’ with low status and low levels of pay were now in demand. Local workers had begun to take on roles that were traditionally filled by migrant workers, the report said.
“Over the past three months, the recession has resulted in a sharp decline in vacancy rates in both cities.” It added: “Levels of staff turnover were reported to have dropped significantly, and there were reports of an increase in local people applying for [hard to fill] jobs.”
The report called for local councils to draw up integration plans to help arrivals from the A8 accession states to settle, thereby maximising the benefits for local business.
Although by the end of January 2009 there were five Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) claimants for every job vacancy in Bristol, compared to 22 in Hull, increased competition for hard to fill jobs is increasingly an issue there.
Dermot Finch, director of the Centre for Cities, said: “In cities like Hull and Bristol, unemployment is rising and vacancies are falling – but we are not yet seeing a mass exodus of migrant workers. A8 migrants and the recently unemployed are now competing for fewer jobs, and previously “hard-to-fill” jobs are now in demand.”