Migrants not staying long enough to boost local economies

Employers need to do more to retain migrants in the UK workforce, a report out this month will warn.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that employers and local economies are not reaping the full benefits of migration because many workers are staying for short periods instead of settling in the UK.

Home Office figures published last month indicated that work-related migration from the eight European accession countries has fallen to its lowest level since 2004. About one million migrants have arrived in the UK since then, but it is estimated that half of them have already returned home.

The IPPR report claims migrants play a key role in changing local skills mixes and doing jobs that UK workers don’t want to do. But the think-tank also argues that local councils and employers need to ensure indigenous workers’ wages and job opportunities aren’t damaged and that local businesses don’t become overly reliant on migrant workers.

IPPR research fellow Laura Chappell said migrant workers could bring enormous benefits.

“However, many of [their] contributions – such as new ideas and ways of working, and an entrepreneurial spirit – may have been neglected in the past,” she said.

The report also raised concerns about the government’s points-based immigration system. Under the scheme, no low-skilled migrants will be allowed into the UK from outside the EU.

Chappell said: “That is a large amount of people who are being written off – but who add a huge amount to the diversity of an area and local economy.”

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the pill of less immigration was sweetened for employers as it might improve the job prospects for the young and less-skilled British workers.

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