UK: “Reduction of Net Migration” – A Realistic Policy?

New research reveals that the raft of entry limits imposed on highly skilled non-European migrants in 2011 does not, in fact, have any impact to net migration. Instead, the limit placed on non-EEA nationals appears to have attracted Europeans to migrate.

Cinzia Rienzo and Carlos Vargas-Silva of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and Oxford University have conducted extensive statistical analysis and the conclusion is telling. The restriction on highly skilled migration from outside the European Union has not only had a negligible impact on net migration but created an influx of European nationals from the original 14 EU states.  

The study compared years between 2009 – 2011, when there was very limited control on net migration, and between 2011 to the present day when “reducing net-migration” was a key focus. The conclusion suggested that, whilst there appears to have been a 39% reduction in highly educated non-EEA nationals coming to the UK, the gap of the reduction appears to have attracted a 53% increase in highly skilled EEA nationals migrating to the UK. The analysis also appeared to have suggested that the number of highly skilled EEA nationals will soon overtake the number of non-EEA nationals. In other words, “net migration” will increase whether there are policies limiting non-EEA nationals or not. The fact that there are genuine skills gaps within the market place is the key driving factor for increase and attraction to immigration.

We may be so bold as to therefore suggest that the government may be a tad bit misguided by the central policy they put in place for reduction in migration to the UK. Rather, an investment in the future of the UK and a clear policy to fill our skills gap may be the driving force to reduce migration.   

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