UK businesses hire EU workers "for commitment and experience", rather than because they are cheap

Billy Ehrenberg
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EU workers are hired by UK businesses for their commitment and experience (Source: Getty)

Non-UK workers aren't just a cheaper alternative than their UK counterparts, it seems.

EU migrants offer growing UK businesses levels of experience and commitment that make them extremely attractive to employers, according to a new report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

The study looked at the motivations and experiences of 1,000 employers and discovered the effects migrant workers have on growing businesses.

The survey found only 12 per cent of respondents indicated they had hired EU workers because of lower pay expectations, seemingly putting to bed the assumption that migrant workers undercut the market.

The report states:

Organisations that employ EU migrant workers are more likely to report that their business has been growing over the last two years (51 per cent) than organisations that don’t employ migrant workers (39 per cent). 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.

As this chart shows, migrant workers make up an increasingly large proportion of the workforce:

As more countries have joined the EU, the proportion of all non-UK workers coming from the European Union has increased. By indexing the data, we can get a clearer picture of the growth:

By breaking down the EU contribution, we can see the interplay between different blocs. The EU8, or the eight countries that joined in 2008, have played an increasingly larger role, while there has been a slow and steady influx of Romanian and Bulgarian workers, rather than a flood.

Youth unemployment

Another claim is that increased competition for jobs brought on by migration has led to higher youth unemployment. The report seemed to support this - to a limited extent. As this chart shows, migrant workers are making up a larger proportion of the work force:

...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.

However, the report claims greater competition is partly mitigated by the trend for companies which employ EU workers to offer more work experience and internships. Increased competition is also partly caused by other factors, such as a larger number of older native workers.

By way of conclusion, the report suggested policymakers could do the following to alleviate youth unemployment and improve the employability of young workers:

  • Encouraging more employers to create more skilled jobs and progression, better management, and investment in their workforces for the longer term, rather than just trying to compete on lowest skills and lowest costs.
  • Building closer links between employers and schools to help young people gain the employability and other work related skills employers need.
  • Improvements in careers information, advice and guidance given to young people to help them better navigate their way into work and build their work experience.

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