Does migration help or hinder our skills base?

On the day that net migration rose again, to 298,000 for the past year, there’s an interesting study published by UCL Institute of Education looking at the effect on the UK’s adult numeracy skills of immigrants.

It’s a study using data from over a long time period, from 1964 to 2011, and it shows that while highly numerate individuals left the UK, about the same number arrived.  But – high net migration means that a large number of less numerate individuals also arrived too.

The conclusion that Dr John Jerrim, who conducted the research, has come to is that immigration has added greatly to the supply of low skilled (i.e. less numerate) workers.

It is only one aspect of the story of migration, however.  Another report, from the Centre for Market and Public Organisation at the University of Bristol, looked at London’s schools’ success in recent years compared with the rest of the UK – and put this down to the immigration effect.  The report’s author, Professor Simon Burgess, puts this down to the aspiration and ambition of immigrant communities compared to the white British population.

One thing that is clear: the effects of migration are never as clear cut as some would want us to believe.

By Tom Franklin, Former CEO, Think Global

Leave a Reply