Immigration in the United Kingdom has been a ‘hot’ topic among a large majority of the British population, especially because of the referendum on whether to leave the European Union which took place in June 2016. The problem has been and still is, that we have not looked at the facts nor realised that often we have unintentionally seen things from a racial perspective. Yet, trying to get accurate figures is often fraught with difficulties, especially when many people are in this country illegally. Even, when one takes figures from the Office of National Statistics, it is not easy to break down the figures to make them useful and objective. However, let us now look at some figures from them:
In the year ending December 2016 there were 588,000 people who had entered the UK during the year, and 339,000 who left it.
Of those 588,000 who came to the UK, 74,000 are British Citizens, 250,000 EU Citizens and the rest from outside the EU.
Breaking it down further into types of immigrants, students and their spouses make up well over 150,000 (I tried to get the figures off the Office of National Statistics website, but the link is broken as of 31/07/2017).
The largest number of applications for asylum, including dependants, came from nationals of Iran (4,811; +2,324), followed by Pakistan (3,511; -1), Iraq (3,374; +2,367), Eritrea (3,340; -270) and Afghanistan (3,133; +1,423). There were 2,235 (+680) Syrian nationals granted asylum or an alternative form of protection in the YE March 2016 and a further 1,667 Syrian nationals granted humanitarian protection under the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
So, when you deduct UK nationals, overseas students and asylum seekers, plus their spouses and children, the numbers seeking work is less than 350,000 of which 250,000 are EU citizens.
Then one needs to look at the number of unfilled vacancies, especially among those with skills such as those needed in the NHS, education and certain other industry sectors. Even among unskilled vacancies, mainly in the agricultural sector (especially in seasonal work), there is a shortage, partly because British people do not want these jobs. Finding the figures is difficult, but the NHS has several thousand. Hence the importance of encouraging overseas nationals to apply for these jobs. Anyhow most immigrants tend to look for work in the London area which probably has more unfilled vacancies than anywhere else in the UK. The other issue is that suitable jobs are often in another area, and it might mean moving, which is difficult when family is in one area and the job might only be temporary.
Part of the problem is that many British people either do not want to go into certain sectors or do not have the skills for the vacancies. Also, with many vacancies being automated, a good number of the unemployed who are either unskilled or semi-skilled are being made redundant. So, it is swings and roundabouts. Another issue is the concentration of jobs in London and southeast – of which a good number do not have to be there, but could easily be done in the north, especially in the IT and manufacturing industries. But, the transport infrastructure needs to be improved drastically to help in drawing such jobs north.
Looking at our perceptions about immigrants, we tend to notice people from outside the EU, because of the skin colour and so think they are overwhelming us, especially as many live in ‘ghettos’ partly because ‘white’ areas do not welcome them, partly because they prefer to be with their own people. This often leads to racism both ways. We tend to forget that a large number of Americans and Australians also migrate to the UK, and we accept them.
We must not also forget that our ancestors are not all ‘pure’ Anglo-Saxon. Have a look at Ancestry’s recent blog on the subject – https://blogs.ancestry.co.uk/cm/we-are-less-british-than-we-think/?o_xid=74115&o_lid=74115&o_sch=External+Paid+Media
So, you see the subject is more complex than we think. And note that net migration is only 249,000 for 2016. I think immigration is really a minor issue when compared to other ones like staffing and funding properly the NHS and schools with mathematics, science and language teachers, along with dealing with climate change and other world issues, all of which affect us personally, whether we realise it or not.. In fact, our whole education system needs overhauling to help empower students to become ‘whole’ and balanced people with the skills of the future, trained, not taught, by specialists in those areas that the UK has a niche market so that we can compete in the world.