A report by the British Institute of Directors has found that migrants are making an incredibly positive contribution to the UK economy. Far from taking jobs, workers from inside and outside the EU who make their way to the UK are creating employment and providing the skills required for organisations to grow.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) is the longest running organisation for business leaders.  According to the report, the vast majority of the body’s membership support the hiring of skilled migrants from abroad. The reasons for this include:

  • 62% believe immigration has a significant or slight positive impact on the UK economy
  • 70% believe “UK businesses need the skills of immigrants to compete globally”
  • 59% agree that “immigration allows business to become more productive, which leads to higher economic growth and employment,” against only 18% who disagree
  • Some 67% have at least one employee who is a foreign national

Crucially, despite the widespread claim that business is hiring only because “migrants are cheaper”, only four per cent of IoD members say that cost was a factor in their decision to hire a foreign worker. Instead, hiring decisions were made on the basis of skills and competence.

This research illustrates why it is vital for employers and employees to hire the best immigration lawyers possible to assist them with business immigration matters. Far from wanting to restrict migration, the UK Sponsor Licence holders want more freedom to hire the skills they need. This provides huge opportunities for applicants wanting to apply for a UK work visa; it is clear British business want and need migrant skills.

A flare for entrepreneurship

Non-UK nationals not only benefit existing businesses, they are more than three times as likely as a British-born person to start their own venture, thus creating jobs.  Another report, conducted by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and data business, Duedil, found in 2014 that migrant entrepreneurs are behind one in seven UK companies. By engaging the best immigration solicitors available in the UK to assist them pass the genuine entrepreneur test and set up their new venture, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa applicants are making the most of the opportunities available in the UK, including the low rate of corporation tax and the ease in which business can be done.

Young, educated and full of promise 

What is often forgotten by those who want to limit immigration is that a vast majority of both EU and non-EU migrants coming to the UK are young.  A survey of IoD members found that 44% of those who came to the UK were between the ages of 16-35 years and a further 22% were under the age of 16 years.

These figures, largely focused on entrepreneurs, mirrors immigrants at large; nearly 34% of foreign-born workers in the UK are between 25 and 35, while only 22% of UK-born workers were in that age group.  And the fact that migrants are predominantly young is vital, given the fact that the UK, along with most developed nations, is facing a rapidly ageing population.  To cope with the increasing strain that more elderly, native-born people will place on the healthcare system and other public services, young migrant workers are essential for ensuring Westminster collects the taxes it needs.

Migrants often contribute to the UK economy in a number of ways

Another interesting point revealed by the IoD research was that a third of their foreign-born members who come to the UK and eventually started their own business, originally came to the UK following a job offer.

According to the report:

This demonstrates a clear pathway of migrant entrepreneurship; while they may have originally come to work for a firm in a ‘traditional’ job, that may not be the only contribution they make to the UK economy. It may sound like a truism, but it is clear as a result that one of the ways to guarantee more immigrant entrepreneurship is for more migrants to be able to accept jobs here in the first place. That, in particular, means it is important to simplify the visa system.

Members of the influential IoD used the report to heavily criticise the current immigration system:

  • 95% believe far too much information is required by employers when filling out immigrationforms
  • 94% believe the time it takes from offering someone a job to their start day is too long
  • Only 8% of member rated the guidance provided by the Home Office as good or very good

The research also looked at the main challenges faced by those on a Tier 2 (General) or a Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) Visa in starting their own business in the UK.  Four main obstacles were clearly felt:

  • Lack of contacts and networks – having the confidence to attend networking events when you know no-one, the time it takes to build up a list of trusted contacts from scratch and simply knowing where to find networking opportunities was listed as a significant barrier for foreign-born entrepreneurs.
  • Knowledge – knowing where to go for support – funding and grants is second-nature for those who have been brought up in Britain, but for foreign-born entrepreneurs, opportunities for government and non-government support can slip by unnoticed.
  • Language – despite a knowledge of English being a pre-requisite for obtaining a Tier 2(General) Visa or a UK Entrepreneur Visa, language can still present challenges.  For example, writing reports and business plans in correct, grammatical English can be difficult and many migrants report that other businesses and lending institutions are reluctant to take them seriously at first due to their accent.
  • Accessing finance – 37% of migrant entrepreneurs have funded their start-up though their own savings.  This is because accessing finance as a non-British national can prove challenging.  For example, many of the interviewees said they have not even tried to obtain independent funding because they could not transfer their credit history to the UK.  Very few international entrepreneurs accessed any government funding to finance their venture.

As the IoD points out unabashedly in the conclusion of their report; the UK government must do more to highlight the positive impact foreign-born workers and entrepreneurs make to the UK economy, rather than constantly apologising for being unable to reduce net migration.  With the help of the best immigration solicitors, both Tier 1 Sponsor Licence holders and those applying for a work permit or Entrepreneur Visa, can contribute greatly to the UK markets and provide stability for our economic future.

OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected immigration law firms in London.  By making an appointment with one of our immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today.  We can assist you with all aspects of business immigration law.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960.

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