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New report says many migrants stuck on the lowest rung of the employment ladder

A new report by the Migration Policy Institute ‘Benign Neglect? Policies to Support Upward Mobility for Immigrants in the United Kingdom’ has found that although the UK remains a popular destination for migrants from within and outside the European Union its “work-first” approach to professional development, coupled with limited opportunities to advance into middle-skilled jobs, has left many immigrants stuck on the lowest rung of the employment ladder.


It also finds that policy makers are hesitant to offer integration initiatives to immigrants because of budget cuts and public hostility towards immigrants.  Public funding for vocational training and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes has been slashed leaving provision up to employers who are not always inclined to pay for these services.   The report assesses how effectively integration policies in the UK are helping migrants advance into middle-skilled jobs from low-skilled work or unemployment, focusing in particular on employment services, ESOL, and vocational training. It then discusses the ways that other policies often undermine migrants’ entry into the labour market and progression out of low-skilled jobs, including cuts to welfare programmes, difficulty navigating a complex and ever-changing workforce development system, and low demand for training in some sectors, particularly those with high turnover.


The ‘Benign Neglect’ report is part of a research project funded by the EU in collaboration with the International Labour Office.  The project is now in its second phase which is evaluating the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these bariers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage.  The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the UK.  Find out more about this Migration Policy Institute project and download the report.