There are over 1 million job vacancies in the UK in September 2021, but Brexit isn’t the only reason!
There are currently over a million job vacancies in the UK, which is the most since the Office for National Statistics started keeping records!
Vacancies are mainly concentrated in low-skilled, low paid sectors such as:
Fruit and Vegetable Harvesting
Hotel work – cleaning and making beds
The BBC (link above) provide a very handy overview here:
The consequences of Labour Shortages
The Today Programme (R4 Tuesday 14th September) interviewed Ali Capper, the owner of Stocks Farm in Suckley and chair of British Apples and Pears who stated that she had advertised locally for 70 apple and pear pickers, had only 9 applications, of which one had actually followed through by doing the job.
She pointed out that her industry relies mainly on Eastern European seasonal migrant workers from countries such as Poland and Romania, and there are fewer migrants coming to the UK to work – across the fruit picking industry farms are between 10-35% down on their usual labour force.
In some cases, labour shortages are so bad farmers are telling local consumers to come and help themselves, giving away their produce for free as the only other alternative is to let it rot in the fields.
The Today programme also interviewed a guy who runs a business collecting and cleaning laundry from 12 London hotels who says that labour shortages have forced him to reduce the scale of his business – he has had to turn some of his clients down because he can’t get the staff – despite increasing wages from £10 to £15 an hour.
Why are there so many vacancies in these sectors?
Some of the growers themselves blame the government’s immigration policy since Brexit, claiming it is ideological – they refuse to let more people from Eastern Europe and expect companies that traditionally rely on workers from these countries to adapt and recruit locally.
Many migrant workers went home during the the Pandemic to be closer to family and now many of them are reluctant to come back, at least partly because of improved opportunities at home – this was a trend BEFORE the pandemic and Brexit!
Brexit has made it more difficult for new migrants to come to the UK and it’s reduced the number of people wanting to come here to work because it’s tainted the UK’s image.
These jobs are simply too low paid to attract sufficient people to do them!
There are still many people on Furlough, reducing the available labour pool though that is set to come to an end shortly.
On further question we might ask is how so many people in Britain can afford NOT to work – the unemployment rate may be historically low, but there are still 3% of the population unemployed, meaning there are sufficient people in the country to do the jobs, but who are presumably able to survive without working.
The New Right might suggest the government needs to make life more difficult for these people shirking work!
Relevance to A-level sociology
These labour shortages illustrate the problems that can happen when globalisation slows down as a result of international migration becoming more difficult (whatever the reasons) and remind us how crucial global flows of labour are for keeping our economy going.
This topic probably isn’t the most relevant to any of the main modules, but it does apply somewhat to the topics of globalisation and migration, the later being relevant to the family module.
It’s also quite a nice one to get students to apply sociological perspectives too, just to get them thinking!
This post looks at the recent increase in net migration to the UK, and at some of the reasons for increasing immigration in particular, including push and pull factors. It also looks at some of the consequences of increasing migration and the relationship between globalisation and migration.
Recent Patterns of Migration to the UK
The Office for National Statistics Net migration was actually negative during the 1970s and early 1980s, turning positive but at a relatively low level during the 1980s and early 1990s. Since 1994, it has been positive every year and rose sharply after 1997.
During the 2000s, net migration increased further, partly as a result of immigration of citizens from the countries that have joined the EU since 2004. Since the mid 2000s, annual net migration has fluctuated between approximately 150,000 and 300,000.
The most recent figures show a stable level of net migration, at around 200 000 to 300 000 per year:
Why are people immigrating to the UK?
The most common reason for migrating to the UK is work. This has been the case historically, with the exception of 2009 to 2012, when formal study was the most common main reason for migration.
In the year ending June 2015, a total of 294,000 immigrated for work-related reasons. This is a statistically significant increase from the previous year when 241,000 people immigrated for work-related reasons. Of those immigrating for work-related reasons in the year ending June 2015, 64% (187,000) came with a definite job to go to and 36% (107,000) came to look for work.
There were increases in immigration for work among EU citizens and non-EU citizens. Provisional estimates from the International Passenger Survey (IPS) show that 58% (162,000) were EU citizens (excluding British citizens), which was not a statistically significant increase and 24% (67,000) were non-EU citizens, also not a statistically significant increase from the previous year. The majority of other sources also show that immigration for work has increased over the last year for both EU and non-EU citizens.
The second most common reason for immigrating to the UK was formal study. In the year ending June 2015, a total of 192,000 people immigrated to the UK for formal study. Provisional estimates from the IPS show that the majority (131,000 or 71%) were non-EU citizens while 47,000 (24%) were EU citizens (excluding British citizens).
In the year ending June 2015, a total of 80,000 people arrived in the UK to accompany or join others,this remains relatively unchanged from 82,000 the previous year. Provisional estimates from the IPS show that the majority (45,000 or 58%) were non-EU citizens while 23,000 (30%) were EU citizens (excluding British citizens).
Where are people Emigrating from?
Refugees and Asylum Seekers Coming to the UK
Migrants to Britain hoping to gain citizenship must get 75 per cent or more on the Life in the UK test, which was recently revamped to incorporate “British values” (whatever they are).
The simplest level of analysis lies in explaining increasing migration to the UK in terms of push and pull factors:
Push Factors refer to problems which encourage a person to leave or emigrate from their country
Pull Factors refer to the real or perceived benefits of another country which attract people to it, or migrate towards it
You should be able to identify a number of push and pull factors from the material above note down at least two push and pull factors which repel people from other countries and attract them towards the UK.
Increasing globalisation is also fundamentally linked to globalisation, which is covered below.
The impact of migration on UK population structure and family life
There are three main effects:
Population size is increasing because net migration is increasing. If it were not for high net migration the UK population would be shrinking due to low birth rates, which on their own are below the fertility rate required to replace the population, which is 2.1. babies per woman.
The age structure changes. Immigration lowers that average age of the population both directly and indirectly. Directly because immigrants tend to be younger by 10 years than the British born population. Indirectly because Immigrant women have a higher fertility ratio – they have more babies than British born women.
The dependency ratio. Here immigration has three effects:
Immigrants are more likely to be of working age and this thus helps lower the dependency ratio.
However because they are younger, immigrants have more children and so the immigrants’ children add to the dependent population.
Finally, the longer a group is settled in the country, the closer their fertility rate comes to the national average, reducing their distinct impact on the dependency ratio.
Impacts on Public Services..
It is not possible to say with certainty what the implications of migration are for public services, and these impacts are likely to vary by area and depending on the type of public service. Migrants contribute to demand for public services. If foreign-born people in the UK used public services in the same way as demographically similar UK-born people, they would be expected to make less use of health and social care, but greater use of education. Migrants also contribute to financing and providing public services, and are over represented in the health care and social care work forces.
The Political Impact of Globalisation
States now have policies that seek to control immigration, absorb migrants into society and deal with increased ethnic and cultural diversity. More recently policies have also become linked to national security and anti-terrorism policies.
Assimilationism was the first state policy approach to immigration. It aimed to encourage immigrants to adopt the language, values and customs of the host culture, to become ‘like us’. However assimilationist policies have mainly failed because of the desire of many migrants to retain aspects of their ‘culture of origin’.
Multiculturalism accepts that migrants may wish to retain a separate cultural identity. One consequence of multicultural policy is the emergence of multicultural education in schools. However,Eriksen criticises such education as encouraging ‘shallow diversity’ – so we accept the surface elements of other cultures such as Samosas and Saris, but it fails to address issues surrounding ‘deep diversity’ such as arranged marriages.
Since September 11th many politicians have demanded a return to assimilationsim
Two further consequences include –
A More Multicultural Society
A divided working class and the white working class backlash.
Sources used to write the above include information from the ONS, British Red Cross and Rob Webb et al’s AS level Sociology book for the AQA.
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