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MAC report: Migrants are not taking school-leavers’ jobs

by John Dunn | Aug 01, 2014
  • In May 2014, the Minister for Immigration asked the Migrant Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on the economic and social impacts of low-skilled migration on the British workforce.
    Man-standing-on-dirt-road

    Under the instructions of Mark Harper (then Minister for Immigration), the MAC was tasked with researching the growth of migrant labour, distinguishing where possible between EEA and non-EEA migrants within the low-skilled sectors of the UK economy.

    Figures show that just over two million migrants hold 16% of the 13 million low-skilled jobs available in the UK, with 58% of these migrants born outside the EU. 

    According to the report, there is no real evidence that EU migrants have hampered the job prospects of Britain's school-leavers. Instead, the report reveals that demand for migrant labour is influenced by labour market regulation, pay levels and education policy. 

    The study found that migrants were in fact not taking the jobs of UK-born workers, but rather performing the jobs that UK-born workers did not want to take, particularly in the food processing, agriculture and hospitality sectors. The increase in migrants in low-skilled work benefits employers enormously and has sparked concerns around exploitation, which appears to be rife. 

    In the report, unscrupulous employers are shown to be:
    • failing to pay minimum wages
    • forcing workers to accept sub-standard accommodation
    • failing to ensure fair and decent working conditions
    • retaining workers’ passports as a means of further control
    MAC Chairman Professor David Metcalf believes that vulnerable low-skilled workers, whether British or foreign, need protection, particularly when it comes to devoting resources to enforcing national minimum wage laws and taking action against gangmasters. 

    According to Professor Metcalf, “There is incomplete compliance with and enforcement of labour regulations, and regulatory resources and penalties are inadequate. A typical employer can expect a compliance visit just once in 250 years and a prosecution once in a million years. We must also redouble our efforts to equip our young people with the skills to compete in a flexible job market.”

    The MAC report concluded that migrant workers have not had a major impact on the pay of British workers, on UK employment, the wider UK economy, and areas such as housing, healthcare, crime, education and welfare benefits.

    Although the MAC report doesn't speak specifically to highly-skilled migrants, business owners and professionals, the report might have an impact on the direction of UK legislation and on the particular industries that rely on market labour. 

    You can find the full report on the UK government website.  

    Our citizenship team facilitates a variety of nationality routes to the UK, as well as immigration and accounting services for successful SME owners. Speak to us to see how this report and changes in immigration legislation could impact you and your business.  

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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