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Migration and the UK Labour Market

Growing businesses are engaging migrant labour for their experience and commitment, but are also more likely to offer job entry opportunities in their local communities, according to a new report by the CIPD.

Drawing on a survey of 1,000 employers, the report finds that organisations that employ EU migrant workers are more likely to report that their business has been growing over the last two years (51%) than organisations that don’t employ migrant workers (39%). This suggests that many employers, as they grow and expand their need particularly for lower skill jobs, may be relying more on migrant workers to fill vacancies.

Just as importantly, there is little evidence to suggest that employers are recruiting migrant workers because they are cheaper than UK born workers or because they require less training.

Only a small proportion of employers (12%) said they recruited migrant workers because they have lower expectations about pay and employment conditions. In addition, the research finds that employers that recruit migrant workers are actually more likely to invest in work experience, internships and apprenticeships than employers that don’t recruit migrants.

“This is a highly charged political issue, but our research shows that many of the negative assumptions about immigration are untrue,” commented Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD.

“Employers are making rational decisions to employ more experienced and qualified workers from overseas over less experienced UK workers, or are hiring migrants because there are simply not enough applicants in the local labour market,” he added. “What the vast majority of employers are not doing is hiring migrants to lower the wage bill or offset the need to train the workforce.”

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