CIPD publishes new study on migration and the UK labour market
Employers who’ve turned to EU migrants to fill vacancies in recent years say they’ve done so because these recruits have brought the experience and commitment needed to support growth, according to ‘The growth of EU labour: Assessing the impact on the UK labour market’, a new report from the CIPD that draws on the perspectives of employers, young UK-born people and EU migrants themselves on the migration debate, alongside previously unreported analysis of ONS data on migrant labour. Although the report finds evidence of a more competitive labour market for young people seeking entry-level roles, it also finds that employers that employ migrant workers are more likely to be offering work experience and other initiatives such as internships and apprenticeships than organisations that don’t employ migrant workers.
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.
The research also explored the impact of the increase in migrant workers over the last 10 years on the UK labour market and in particular youth employment. This found that some younger workers are likely to have found it more difficult to find work since EU8 migrants (i.e. from the 2004 accession countries to the European Union) have had access to the UK labour market because EU8 migrants are typically older, more experienced and better qualified. Both groups are also disproportionately represented in low-skilled work.
However, the report points out that migration has only been one factor amongst many in relation to youth unemployment. Other drivers include an increase in the number of older workers, and welfare reforms which have increased the pool of working parents and former unemployment benefit claimants competing for roles against the backdrop of no employment growth in medium-skilled roles in recent years.
The report concludes that, given the guarantee of freedom of movement to EU migrants, policy makers concerned over the link between migration and youth unemployment should review skills policy and consider how to ensure young UK born workers can compete on a more level playing field not just with migrants but with all older workers.
Download the full report here