There’s sound economics, and then there’s Matthew Hancock.


This morning, the Telegraph is reporting that “under an EU scheme partly funded by British taxpayers, all positions advertised in UK jobcentres also have to be offered to workers in European member states.

“UK firms are given as much as £1,000 as a bonus for taking on the foreign workers.

“The disclosure undermined comments made by Matthew Hancock, the business and skills minister, who called on UK bosses to stop taking the ‘easy option’ of filling jobs with foreigners when they could train local workers instead.” This is the same business and skills minister who missed an interview because he couldn’t get out of bed.

Just hours after Mr Hancock’s intervention it emerged that that a website called EURES, which was set up by the European Commission, is advertising 808,659 UK jobs to people on the continent.” The Telegraph continued.

Our only moral obligation is to make a profit (for our shareholders), is what Hancock should be told by British business.

First of all Matthew Hancock is wrong: A company is not taking the ‘easy option’ by recruiting a trained foreign worker instead of an inexperienced domestic labourer – it is taking the credible, and best option possible. Companies are not charities, and should not be viewed as such. Business is an efficient, lean, competitive entity, whose sole purpose is to provide its product at the best quality it can, whilst seeking to produce that product for the cheapest price possible. There is no “social duty” to employ young British workers rather than better qualified foreigners as Hancock has said – such rhetoric is anti business and anti growth.

But what about those British kids who cannot get employed?

The jobs pie is not fixed. Economic growth means more opportunities for everyone. By taking on the most productive workers, i.e. the best qualified, business is more likely to grow, and therefore be able to offer more opportunities in future. It is a meritocracy: the best worker for that company should get the job – simple as that. If this means that young Brits are being beaten in the jobs market, then frankly, the onus is on them to better themselves. It is not right to expect a company which is under the pressures of competition to offer hand outs to second rate candidates. Brits need to do more to become qualified and compete.

Or pundits can blame the education system for not providing young British people with the skills they need to compete in the jobs market. More and more people are seeking degrees, yet are finding it increasingly difficult to find work once they graduate. Yet when we realise that it is possible to earn a degree in Strategic Sales Management, or Surf Science and Technology, you’ve got to ask, what is the point in academic learning in some subjects? Apprenticeships and on the job training should be the emphasis for many subjects – the majority in my opinion – as opposed to academic text books which won’t even make you a good salesperson by themselves; even if you do study Sales at University.

However, what is unfair about this EU scheme is that UK firms are given as much as £1,000 as a bonus for taking on the foreign workers. If we are going to have a genuine meritocracy for work, then there should be no financial bonus for discriminating against any nationality, gender, sexuality – etc. However, this facet will not excuse Hancock, as the discovery of this scheme was unearthed hours after the MP had commented on the ‘easy option’ for hiring foreign workers.

Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, spoke a little bit more sense on the issue: he said that Matthew Hancock should “hang his head in shame” for blaming British bosses for hiring foreigners, and mentioned that the UK Government is paying for a scheme that favours foreign workers over domestic job seekers.

I think he has a point. If we want to have a true meritocracy in the jobs markets, there shouldn’t be financial rewards for hiring a particular nationality, gender, and so on. There also cannot be the diet-arguments of “British jobs for British people” that Hancock is leaning towards. The free movement of labour has been one (of few) aspect of the European Union which Libertarians should welcome. The idea that someone is prepared to pack their bags and move to another country to improve their lot through hard work is jaw-droppingly inspiring. Those are the sorts of people who are prepared to work hard and will be of benefit to our economy. Unfortunately, that meritocratic theory is watered down now there are government subsidies involved in the process. Get rid of those subsidies and allow for fair competition for work between all people, and you have got a bloody good system in my view.


  1. I had not realised that Matthew Hancock had degrees from Oxbridge. I wonder if he might consider communicating with less broad stroke erudition and possibly more factual details.

  2. I accept your arguments, but am nevertheless suprised that at a time we are just starting to recover from a near-total financial collapse the EU is advertising almost a million jobs in Britain to foreigners. Did nobody take notice of the unsustainability of our population last year when the water nearly ran out?


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