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New NIESR report explores migration and productivity

A new research report by NIESR, supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust, turns its attention from the short term impacts of migration on labour markets to the long term relationship between migration an productivity. Through interviewing employers, the general public and carrying out data analysis, the research found a positive influence of increases in migrants in the workforce as well as a disparity between public opinion and the characteristics of migrant workers in the UK.


Migration and productivity: employer’s practices, public attitudes and statistical evidence found three main reason for why employers recruit from outside the UK; when the supply of skills from inside the UK is deficient, to recruit high skill levels which are in short supply across the globe and top complement the skills of non-migrants.


This stands in contrast to the perceptions of focus group members who tended to focus on low skilled, low paid Eastern European migrants when think in migrant workers in the UK.


Employers believed that the varied experiences and perspectives that migrants can bring to the workplace create teams with different strengths and more dynamic workplaces. This was accepted by the focus group participants. However, both participants and employees could see the challenges of diverse teams, particularly when language skills and cultural understanding were deficient, but these were considered to be minor issues with positives of diverse teams outweighing the bad.


An analysis of data between 1997 and 2007 found that the number of migrants working in more sectors has increased, and migrants tend to be more educated and work longer hours than those born in the UK. There was a positive correlation between the share of migrants in region-sectors and labour productivity as well as a significant positive association between increases in the employment of migrants and labour productivity.


Read the full report online here.