Belfast Telegraph

Inward flow of talent is vital to our success

By Angela McGowan

Many advanced economies currently face the challenge of an ageing population and a declining birth rate.

Thus the long-term economic success of many economies will be dependent upon their ability to maintain an inward flow of young and talented labour from abroad.

Migration is by no means a new phenomenon. In the second half of the 1950s and the 1960s European countries opened up their borders to deal with labour shortages in a period of rapid economic growth.

Indeed, immigration policy has often been successfully used to tackle skill shortages in specific sectors. In 2000 the German government introduced a so-called green card for IT specialists from non-EU countries to ensure it could cope with the excessive demand at that time for IT skills. Inward migration also provides a country with a much more flexible and dynamic labour market.

Migrant workers make a substantial contribution to the economy's public finances through generating income, raising productivity and of course through the migrant worker's purchasing power.

With the UK and Northern Ireland facing the challenge of an ageing population in the years ahead, it would be extremely myopic for policy makers to ignore the overwhelming contribution migrant workers will bring to our economy.

Angela McGowan is chief economist at Danske Bank

Belfast Telegraph