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630,000 migrants in low-skill jobs

Published 20/05/2015

Just over half of eastern European workers in the UK were in the second lowest skills category, which includes sales and customer services jobs
Just over half of eastern European workers in the UK were in the second lowest skills category, which includes sales and customer services jobs

Almost three-quarters of eastern European workers who have arrived in the UK since their countries joined the European Union (EU) are in low-skilled jobs, research claims.

Migration Watch UK said an analysis it carried out showed that in early 2014 there were more than 870,000 employees in the labour market from ten nations which have joined the EU since 2004.

Of those, 630,000 were in roles that are defined as low-skilled by the Government's Migration Advisory Committee, according to the study.

Just over half were in the second lowest skills category, which includes administrative and secretarial occupations, sales and customer services jobs and process, plant and machine operatives.

The remainder were in the lowest-skilled "elementary" occupations, the analysis suggested.

The workers are from Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia, which joined the EU in 2004, and Romania and Bulgaria, which joined in 2007.

Migration Watch UK, which campaigns for tighter immigration restrictions, said that by contrast, 70% of migrants from 14 other countries in the association are in skilled occupations - higher than the 55% of UK-born employees.

Taking all EU migrants together, 750,000 of the 1.27 million are in low-skilled work, which is nearly 60%, researchers said.

Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: "This analysis clearly demonstrates that some means must be found to curb low-skilled immigration from the EU if immigration is to be brought under control.

"East European workers have a very good reputation for their work ethic but the fact that they are so overwhelmingly in low-skilled work raises real questions about their value to the UK economy.

"They add considerably to the pressure on public services, especially in the areas where they are concentrated."

Earlier this month, official jobs figures showed that the number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK increased by a third over a year, official statistics reveal.

Labour market figures show 173,000 people from the two eastern European countries were employed in Britain in the first three months of this year.

This was a jump of 33.5% from 129,000 in the first quarter of last year. In January 2014 employment curbs were lifted for citizens of the two countries .

The total number of non-UK nationals from EU countries working in Britain increased by 283,000 over the year to reach a record 1.91 million.

This was a jump of 17% compared to the same period in 2014.

On Thursday the first round of official migration figures will be released since the Tories' election victory.

Prior to the poll, it emerged that David Cameron had failed to meet his promise to cut net migration to the tens of thousands over the course of the last parliament.

The data showed there was a net flow of 298,000 migrants to the UK in the year to September.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Nine out of every ten people in work are UK nationals - we want to make sure British citizens benefit first from the country's growing economy, but that we also attract the skilled migrants that are needed by our businesses.

"As research has shown, and the Governor of the Bank of England has said, a high level of net migration risks depressing UK wages for the poorest paid.

"The reforms we have already made to benefits, healthcare and housing rules are among the tightest in Europe. The new government will negotiate with the EU to bring in further reforms, so that people will have to be earning here for a number of years before they can claim benefits, including the tax credits that top up low wages."

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