Friday, February 24, 2017

Capitalism needs Migrants

Latest statistics suggest a fall in net migration and a big drop on EU workers coming from the eight so-called accession countries (A8) like Poland.

More than 100,000 EU citizens have left Britain - 17% more than in the previous year. And arrivals from the A8 countries have fallen sharply. The number of new registered workers from Poland is down 16% year on year, Hungary is down 14%, Slovakia down 20% and Lithuania down 6%.

 Uncertainty over the status of EU citizens in a post-Brexit Britain, and the sharp fall in the exchange rate of the pound, has made the UK a much less attractive prospect.

 The tourism and hospitality sector, for instance, has relied upon importing foreign labour. A quarter of hospitality businesses across Britain say they currently have vacancies they are struggling to fill. York, where the tourist industry is booming, it is now worth an astonishing £500m a year and supports more than 20,000 jobs. But the expansion could not have happened without immigration. The city has close to full employment - there are estimated to be fewer than a thousand local job seekers. The news of a fall in migrant workers from countries which have traditionally filled tourist jobs makes grim reading for York's hoteliers, restaurateurs and bar owners.

If the numbers continue to fall, some fear the worst. "It would create a staffing crisis," says Graham Usher, who heads York's Hoteliers' Association. "If we get to the point where we can't fill vacancies with European workers then there's a big gap that we just can't fill."
What about using British workers?
"There just aren't enough of them around. York only has about 700 unemployed people and that is it."

It is not just the tourism and hospitality sector, of course. Britain's record employment rate means there is often no immediate domestic alternative to migrant labour for many businesses looking to expand or simply survive.

Poskitt's Carrots is a £35m a year business in the East Riding of Yorkshire, supplying vegetables to many of Britain's big supermarkets.If we didn't have access to non-UK labour we just could not run this business," says managing director Guy Poskitt. "I wouldn't even attempt to try and run it. Take away 80% of my workforce how can I operate?" Guy Poskitt doesn't want to be reliant on migrant labour, but argues that there just aren't the domestic workers available from the rural communities nearby.
The social care sector is also extremely concerned about the lack of suitable domestic staff to replace foreign workers who, in parts of the country make up the majority of employees.Britain's creative industries, which are worth more to the UK economy than the finance sector, are often collaborative ventures involving highly skilled but relatively low paid workers from around the world. From ballet companies to computer gaming firms, there is concern that an inability to attract or employ foreign staff will damage their international standing and profitability.
Earlier this week the Brexit Secretary David Davies told an audience in Estonia that in sectors requiring low-skilled labour including hospitality, agriculture and social care "it will be years and years before we get British citizens to do those jobs. Don't expect just because we're changing who makes the decision on the policy, the door will suddenly shut: It won't," he said.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

Nationally, despite concerns about migrants taking jobs, unemployment stands at just 4.8 per cent. It has only dipped lower for two brief periods in the past 40 years. The workforce participation rate is also at a record high.

Beverly Dixon, head of human resources at G’s, one of the largest vegetable producers in the UK, says the company has had to work much harder this year to recruit the 2,500 temporary workers it needs.Hire more UK workers?

But that's not possible, Dixon says. G’s land in Cambridgeshire is in an area of almost full employment. No one locally is going to give up their full-time job for a seasonal one.

James Reed, chief executive of Reed, one of the UK’s biggest recruitment agencies, says vacancies have hit record levels.

John Hardman runs Hops Labour Solutions, which recruits around 12,000 of the country’s 85,000 seasonal farm workers, almost all of whom are from Eastern Europe, primarily Romania and Bulgaria, agrees. “We pick strawberries in Kent where almost no one is unemployed. How do I get those on social welfare from Hull to work down there? And where do I house them?”

Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, “Any restriction on availability in an economy where we are nearing full employment is very, very concerning; it’s a high risk.”