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Employment of skilled migrant workers boosts productivity

By: Information Daily Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 - 00:08 GMT Jump to Comments

An increase in migrant workers has been linked to a rise in labour productivity, according to research published today by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

The NIESR's research found that the recruitment of skilled migrant workers filled skilled and specialist roles and allowed some companies to expand as a result.

Findings did not match the public’s image of migrant workers with many viewing them as individuals who take up low skilled and poorly paid work. However the skills of migrant works tend to be on average higher than native workers.

Employer surveys revealed that there is a need for workers with international experience who can ‘think global’ and complement rather than replace the work of UK citizens.

Many employers believe that migrants help to build teams that make the working environment more dynamic as a result of their different experiences and perspectives of work. Focus groups acknowledged that this worked well.

However there can be some challenges in these culturally diverse teams. Differences in language and cultures can cause issues in workplace communication but employers reported that the benefits tend to outweigh such problems.

Heather Rolfe, one of the authors of the report said: “We hear a lot about public opinion and concern about migration, but our findings suggest that the need for skilled migration is more widely accepted than is often believed". 

She added: “People enjoy working alongside migrants and feel they personally benefit in terms of their own skills and the services they are able to provide”.

Research uncovered four main results linked to migration and productivity. Between 1997 and 2007 immigrant workers have increased in most sectors and on average they tend to be more educated and work longer hours than UK citizens.

A positive correlation has been found between the share of immigrants in certain sectors and a rise in the level of labour productivity.

Statistics show a positive and significant association between the increase of migrant worker employment and a growth in labour productivity. A 1 per cent rise in migrant workers is attributed to a 0.06 to 0.07 per cent rise in labour productivity.

The statistics support the findings of the employer interviews that migrant workers help to increase productivity but the researchers state that further investigation is needed to confirm this link.

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