British study advises limited number of low-skilled migrants after Brexit

A report projecting the impact of migration after Britain leaves the European Union said Tuesday only a limited number of low-skilled immigrant workers should be admitted to the country at that point.

Protesters demonstrate outside British Parliament in London on March 13, 2017. A lengthy study commissioned by the British government said Tuesday fewer low-skilled laborers should be admitted after Britain leaves the European Union -- and more higher-skilled workers should be permitted. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE
Protesters demonstrate outside British Parliament in London on March 13, 2017. A lengthy study commissioned by the British government said Tuesday fewer low-skilled laborers should be admitted after Britain leaves the European Union — and more higher-skilled workers should be permitted. File Photo by Andy Rain/EPA-EFE

The 140-page report by the Migration Advisory Committee cited evidence that high-skilled workers are more beneficial to the European Economic Area than low-skilled workers, and future policy should reflect that.
The projection also recommended removing a cap on higher-skilled migrant workers, as it’s believed they contribute more to the British economy.

“The evidence from this report points in the direction of high-skilled migrants having a clear benefit to existing residents while the same is not true for lower-skilled migrants,” the report said. ” As a result, a policy on work migration that provided greater access for higher-skilled migration while restricting access for lower-skilled workers to enter the U.K. would be consistent with the available evidence.”

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The report was commissioned a year ago by Home Secretary Amber Rudd to analyze the post-Brexit impact of European migrants and come up with a strategy after the transition period ends Jan. 1, 2021.

The report’s findings match policy proposals that Britain’s Home Office has already outlined to immigration specialists.

The study is expected to have a significant impact on the government’s own immigration analysis, which is set for publication later this year.

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The commissioned report noted an exception for agriculture, which consists largely of migrant workers.

Critics of open migration are concerned about the limitations on low-skilled workers. Some experts say a win-win scenario on the issue is impossible, whatever the final policy.

“There is no way to change the migration system without creating winners and losers,” professor Alan Manning, one of the authors of the report. “But we believe the U.K. should focus on enabling higher-skilled migration coupled with a more restrictive policy on lower-skilled migration in the design of its post-Brexit system.”

BySommer Brokaw