Immigrants don’t ‘take’ British jobs. They just make Brits work harder for them
It has been widely reported Labour MP Chris Bryant has criticised certain organisations regarding their recruitment strategy. This has been denied, and we can all look forward to further drama in the next few days. There is no doubt every political party will try to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes, not ours. However, this is part of a bigger picture which must be considered. It was initially suggested the comments would start a debate about immigration, which it has.
When we discuss immigration, the debate becomes very heated very quickly, and no progress is made, but every politician involved feels they have won the debate. The only way to discuss or analyse this situation is by using facts and statistics to reach a conclusion. There are several geographical and physical factors which must be considered:
- We are a small island and therefore we can only support a limited number of inhabitants.
- We have the infrastructure to support a limited number of inhabitants.
- We cannot continue to increase the number of inhabitants without damaging our infrastructure.
- We cannot provide jobs and employment to a larger workforce as a result of changes to our industry and economy which means the number of jobs available has reduced.
- We will not be requiring large numbers of new employees in the foreseeable future.
All these points are easy to understand, and to become annoyed and suggest they are xenophobic is nonsense. A substantial number of inhabitants in most European countries are second or third generation immigrants, and have undoubtedly made a valuable and sustained contribution in their adopted country.
People who continue to say we must have open borders to consider the example of a lift. As we all know every lift has a maximum capacity which should not be exceeded. The actual capacity will be higher than the sign in the lift suggests, but it will not be substantially different. When we choose to ignore the safety notice we only have ourselves to blame when we have a problem. We must consider the country as a lift with a limited capacity, and ensure it does not become overcrowded for the sake of every person who wants to use the lift safely. Therefore it seems apparent we must do all we can to limit immigration.
However, it is relatively easy to present a good commercial argument in favour of uncontrolled immigration. It is easy to understand the geographical and physical factors even if you feel they should be ignored or disregarded. We must maintain and develop our economy in order to support our society and provide workers with income and entrepreneur with appropriate rewards. All businesses require employees and we have a huge number of unemployed adults who should be able to meet the needs of our employers. It is not the case.
We have a huge problem with youth unemployment and we are complaining about immigrant workers taking all the jobs. According to a report in The Telegraph dated 9/8/10: “Half of those recruiting what they described as a “poorly prepared” young person during 2009 said that “poor work ethic, punctuality, appearance, and manners” were significant issues.”
A BBC report dated 2/3/12 stated: “The group, National Numeracy, says millions of people struggle to understand a payslip or a train timetable, or pay a household bill. “ It also stated: “Government figures show almost half the working population of England have only primary school maths skills.” In addition to this National Numeracy quotes from research suggesting weak maths skills are linked with an array of poor life outcomes such as prison, unemployment, exclusion from school, poverty and long-term illness.
A report by The Centre For Social Justice stated: “Poor work attitudes among the long-term unemployed are the major barrier to tackling the jobless crisis.”
We must consider the facts:
- We have unacceptably low rates of literacy and numeracy
- We have developed a benefit culture in our large cities which actively discourages work
- We provide benefits which make a lifetime of idleness appear attractive to our young people
- Employers consider immigrant workers to be polite and courteous
- Employers consider immigrant workers are punctual and reliable
- Immigrant workers will do the jobs our own benefit claimants could and should be doing
- Immigrant workers are frequently described as having a very good work ethic
We must now ask ourselves if we can afford to stop immigration when our own benefit claimants and young people appear not have the skills, education, attitude and desire of immigrant workers. We must make a commitment to ensure our future is safe in the hands of our young people. At this point there is no evidence they are even interested in taking responsibility for their own future, or the future of the economy. It is much easier to rely on immigrant workers who had the courage and desire to travel thousands of miles to work for minimum wage in the hope of finding a better life.
We cannot continue with open borders indefinitely, but we cannot close our borders until the benefit claimants and young people who could and should be making a contribution are prepared to stand up and be counted. Based on the evidence which is currently available it would not take long to complete the count. It would be easy to suggest politicians and business leaders who are suggesting companies based here should attempt to recruit in the local area are racist. It is not true, but it is a good way of ensuring the debate does not continue. They are trying to encourage our employers to provide jobs for their own local community. It makes perfect sense. The same politicians provide support and grants to encourage large companies to provide jobs which should mean they have identified the problem of youth unemployment and also provided the solution by encouraging large companies to provide the jobs required. It does not work when the local workforce cannot meet the selection criteria, or demonstrate a complete lack of interest in working. It means the jobs which have been created must now be filled by other applicants. This is where immigrant workers can meet the need.
The situation will not change until the attitude of our workforce changes and the mistaken belief immigrants taken all our jobs is replaced by the belief we are all required to make a contribution to the economy and society by working.
Tom McManus has worked in education and training for over 25 years. During this time, he has taught in the prison service, universities, schools and colleges. He has also worked as an adviser on education and training to Members of the European Parliament.