10 May 2012 #Immigration
Boris Johnson, in an article in The Telegraph this week suggests that immigration improves the UK labour market using the unusual analogy of English national football only as Boris Johnson could: What football teaches us about creating a thriving jobs market.
He draws a parallel between the international footballers who come from abroad to play in the Premier League elevating the English game and the migrants coming from abroad to work in the UK and how they also improve the UK labour market.
Following his success in the London mayoral elections Boris Johnson identifies that a key priority is to boost growth and get more people into work. However he comments that:
“[t]he trouble is — as many people have pointed out to me at street corners — that London’s formidable job-creating powers do not always seem to involve the creation of jobs for native Londoners. Go into any coffee shop and talk to the staff, listen to the voices on the building sites — and you will see how the city is working as a magnet for talent and energy from outside the UK, many from the countries that have recently acceded to the EU.”
In the current economic climate, his article considers what the best way forward is regarding immigration and Londoners who cannot find work and on an issue that causes tension across the spectrum.
Boris Johnson’s solution calls for an approach that looks at all factors that result in young Londoners missing out on opportunities because of applicants from abroad.
“We need to hear an honest and unflinching account from the employers: just why is it that so many individual recruitment decisions seem to go against young Londoners?
Why do immigrant workers seem to look at a job in McDonald’s or Starbucks as a stepping stone, while some who were born here apparently regard it as a dead end? Is the problem just to do with pay and conditions? Is it really true that immigrants will work harder for less? Is there really a difference in the “work ethic”, or is that an urban myth?”
The article concluded that the solutions is not to develop a UK immigration system that is closed off to foreign nationals wanting to work in the UK. In his own words:
“Against illegals, yes. Against talent, no. In football as in the economy at large, you don’t make people more competitive by excluding the competition”.