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Hiring Foreign Nationals Within the UK

Over the past twenty years foreign nationals within the UK job market, have increased rapidly to seven million people. The share of foreign nationals employed in local jobs has increased from 7.2% in 1993 to 16.7% in 2015. Retail, public administration, health, hospitality and finance, hold the largest non-national population in employment.

Statistics for August 2017, compared to the past twenty years, shows a serious inflow of non-nationals working in the UK. The office for National Statistics indicate that a total of three and half million people currently work in the labour force:

High skilled labour in low skilled jobs:

UK has witnessed a wide increase in foreign nationals pouring into the workforce, and into a large array of jobs. In recent years’ history indicates that lower skilled occupations have had the largest influx. The most popular of occupations have been plant processing, process manufacturing, elementary cleaning, hospitality, food preparation and housekeeping. The main reason behind this high inrush of non-local labour in these occupations has been that it is easy and fast to find a job in a low skill category. Even highly skilled and trained labour from foreign nationalities, can quickly find a job within these occupational categories.

Training and skills in specific job areas:

Several statistics indicate that foreign nationals possess training and skills in specific industries that UK nationals are not trained for. There are a number of reasons behind this anomaly. Industries including skilled manufacturing, like Upholstery and garment stitching require skills that a lot of UK nationals are not trained for. As a result, hiring foreign labour for these specific job areas is far more viable.

Odd jobs and odd requirements:

Non-nationals, working in the UK market, often become the bridge between jobs that have odd requirements, and employment gap. Foreign nationals are available to perform jobs that seek specific individuals who can fulfil odd job requirements such as long commutes, different working hours, or physical labour. The labour market has noticed a significant rise in the number of foreign nationals. Statistics show that foreign nationals, with work permits, are ready to work at lower standard jobs, whilst their skillset may match a job of a higher calibre.

Contribution to the Employer and the Economy:

Non-UK workers have contributed in several ways which benefits the employer in two areas. These areas are the availability of experienced labour and cheaper cost hence impacting the bottom line. In addition to this, their contribution to UK’s GDP is immense. A recently published report says 10% of two million construction workers are foreign nationals. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers are contributing to the UK’s economy by rendering their services in food processing, clothes manufacturing, cleaning and information and technology.

Building Diversity in the Workforce and the Economy:

With the introduction of foreign nationals in the UK economy, diversity in the workforce is being seen. The economy has benefited tremendously with new businesses and ideologies, range within organisations, different private and government bodies that employ foreign nationals. Diversity in the workforce is built when an organisation hires a mix of different nationalities. Cultures, businesses, and practices all combine on a single platform, this allows the organisation to benefit from this diversity in many ways. Which includes enhancing the learning capability of the organisation which can benefit in product and service delivery as well as customer focus.

Skilled Labour:

The skill level of working UK residents is presented in three ways. These are:

  • Highest qualification level achieved
  • Skill level of their occupation
  • Weather a worker had an education level that is “matched” to their occupation, or whether they were over- or under-educated

An analysis was published in 2014 on the skill level of workers in the UK labour market over a 10-year period.

Highest qualification achieved:

A population survey offers information on the highest qualification level a person has achieved. If a person achieves the highest qualification it doesn’t define whether they can work in a job requiring that level qualification. It also doesn’t tell whether a person was working in a job that was appropriate for their education level.

When looking into the highest qualification achieved nationally, this was found:

  • 57% of EU14 nationals had a degree or equivalent qualification, similar to non-EU nationals which was at 52%
  • Approximately 33% of UK nationals had a degree or equivalent
  • 25% of EU8 nationals had a degree or equivalent; the lowest proportion compared with all other nationalities

A high proportion of non-UK nationals stated that their highest qualification is an “other qualification”. When interpreting the results, it should be noted that foreign qualifications can be difficult to find within the survey, therefore a person with a foreign qualification, other than a degree or equivalent, is often classified as having an “other qualification”.

Skill level of occupation:

Occupations can be arranged into four groups and these groupings show the skill level of the job, rather than the person. These classifications are:

  • High
  • Upper middle
  • Lower middle
  • Low

Figure 13 shows that almost 2 in 5 EU14 nationals (estimated 37%) were employed in high-skill jobs; this compares with almost 1 in 10 (estimated 8%) EU8 nationals the chart also shows that an estimated 69% of EU8 nationals and 61% of EU2 nationals were employed in low- or lower-middle skilled jobs, in comparison to less than 50% of nationals from the UK, EU14 and outside the EU.

Skills Mismatch and education attainment:

A skills mismatch of a worker and their job allows comparison between a worker’s highest qualification and the average level of qualification held by those in the job. This determines whether a worker is:

  • Matched
  • Over-educated
  • Under-educated

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