Migration Advisory Committee releases report into migrants in low-skilled jobs in the UK

July 8, 2014

The Migration Advisory Committee has today released a detailed examination of migrants in low-skilled jobs in the UK and their wider impacts.  In 2013 there were 2.1 million foreign born workers in low-skilled jobs in the UK, one million of whom had come to the UK since 2004.

Many of the findings of the MAC research echo those of prior investigations into low-paid migrant workers, including noting issues relating to labour conditions and the high number of migrants employed through agencies. The MAC finds that ‘the availability of migrant workers combined with the low level of labour market regulations has enabled some employers to maximize the advantages to them and, at the same time, allowed migrants to acquire a significant place in the UK labour market, particularly in low-skilled sectors’.

Key themes, and pointers for future research, emerging from the MAC report include the following:

  1. Greater resources to support labour market conditions are needed, including funding of regulatory bodies such as the Gangmaster Licensing Authority, and greater penalties for breach of standards
  2. There is no strong evidence that problems of youth unemployment are a consequence of EU expansion in 2004, but this instead concerns wider  issues relating to education and training policy in the UK, and the inadequacy of current resources targeting students ‘at the lower end of the ability range’.
  3. Immigration, including low-skilled migration, generates significant impacts within certain local authorities, including placing new pressures on education and local health services.
  4. Demand for migrant labour is strongly influenced by factors not directly related to immigration, including labour market regulation, pay levels and education policy.
  5. EU and British authorities should carefully consider how to handle any future EU expansions, given the impacts of previous policy in this area.