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Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview – Current Trends and Statistics

Published by Tom
Edited: 1 month ago
Published: June 16, 2024

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview – Current Trends and Statistics Migrants, individuals who live and work in a country other than their native land, play a vital role in the UK labour market. According to the link, there were approximately 9.5 million migrants in the UK as

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

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Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview – Current Trends and Statistics

Migrants, individuals who live and work in a country other than their native land, play a vital role in the UK labour market. According to the link, there were approximately 9.5 million migrants in the UK as of mid-2019, accounting for around 14% of the population. In this overview, we will discuss current trends and statistics regarding migrants in the UK labour market.

Labour Market Participation

The labour force participation rate of migrants in the UK has been increasing steadily over the past decade. According to the ONS, 76% of migrants aged 16 and above were in employment or seeking work in 2019. This figure is higher than the UK average of 74%. Migrants from EU countries have a particularly high labour force participation rate, with 85% participating in the labour market.

Employment Sector

Migrants in the UK labour market are well-represented across various employment sectors. Health and social work, education, and manufacturing industries have the highest percentage of foreign-born workers. In contrast, the construction industry has the lowest proportion of migrant workers.

Skills and Education

Migrants in the UK labour market bring a diverse range of skills and education levels. According to the ONS, around 31% of migrants have a degree-level qualification or above, compared to 27% of the UK-born population. Moreover, a significant number of migrants have vocational qualifications.

Migration and Unemployment

Studies suggest that migration does not significantly impact unemployment in the UK. According to the ONS, the unemployment rate for migrants is slightly lower than that of the UK-born population (3.9% compared to 4.1%, respectively).

Future Implications

With the ongoing Brexit negotiations and changes in UK immigration policies, it remains to be seen how these factors will impact the UK labour market’s demographic composition. Future research is needed to understand the potential effects of these changes on employment sectors, skills distribution, and overall economic growth.

Understanding the Role and Impact of Migrants in the UK Labour Market

Migrants, individuals who leave their country of origin to live and work in another, play a significant role in the UK labour market. Their contribution is not only demographic but also economic.

Why is it important

to understand the role and impact of migrants in the UK labour market? Firstly, migrants constitute a large proportion of the workforce. According to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, migrants made up about 14% of the UK labour force in 2020.


, migrants fill crucial roles in sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and hospitality, where a labour shortage is often reported.


, understanding the trends and statistics of migrant participation in the labour force is essential for informing policy decisions and public discourse. In this paragraph, we aim to

provide an overview

of current trends and statistics regarding migrant participation in the UK labour force, highlighting the significance of their contribution to the economy.


Migration to the UK, a trend as old as its history, has experienced significant surges and shifts throughout the centuries. From the

Anglo-Saxon period

to the present day, the United Kingdom (UK) has seen the arrival of various waves of immigrants. However, it was during the

post-World War II era

that large-scale migration began in earnest. Many Europeans, particularly those from the


countries, came to the UK seeking better opportunities. This

labour migration

had a profound impact on the labour market, with immigrants often taking up jobs in sectors that were under-resourced or underpaid.

In response to this demographic shift, the UK government passed several

key policies and acts

aimed at shaping migrant employment. The

Immigration Act 1948

was the first major piece of legislation, which abolished the Coloured Alien Seamen’s Ordinance and granted citizenship to many immigrants. However, it also imposed restrictions on non-European immigrants. The

Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962

introduced a work permit system and targeted the right to residence.


1970s and 1980s

saw a significant increase in immigration from the New Commonwealth, particularly from Asia and Africa. This led to further policy changes. The

Race Relations Act 1976

prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, colour, and nationality in employment. The

Immigration Act 1981

introduced a points system, which awarded points based on skills and qualifications, to encourage immigration of those who could contribute economically.


1990s and 2000s

brought about the

European Union (EU) expansion

, allowing free movement of labour from EU countries. The UK government, through initiatives such as the

Working Tax Credit

and the

National Minimum Wage

, aimed to ensure fair wages for migrant workers.

Today, the UK labour market continues to be shaped by migration, with debates around the impact on wages, employment, and social cohesion. The

legal framework

continues to evolve with initiatives such as the

Brexit negotiations

, which may significantly alter the migration landscape and, consequently, the UK labour market.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

I Current Trends

Demographic composition of migrant labour force is a significant factor shaping the global workforce dynamics. This section will explore

three key areas

of demographic information regarding migrant labour:

  1. Nationalities and regions of origin
  2. Age distribution
  3. Gender balance
  4. Skills and qualifications

First, it is crucial to acknowledge that

migrant labour originates from diverse nationalities and regions

. For instance, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the top five countries of origin for international migrants were India, Mexico, China, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Meanwhile, Europe hosts the most significant number of migrant workers, followed by the Americas and Asia-Pacific regions.

Secondly, age distribution and gender balance are essential factors in understanding the demographic composition of migrant labour. The ILO reports that

around 40% of international migrants are under the age of 30

. In terms of gender, while there is a slight male predominance, the gender balance varies greatly depending on the destination country and the specific occupation. For instance, women make up a significant proportion of domestic workers, while men are more likely to work in construction or manufacturing industries.

Lastly, skills and qualifications play a vital role in the integration and economic success of migrant labour. The IOM reports that, despite having comparable education levels to their host countries, migrants often face employment barriers due to a lack of recognition of their foreign qualifications. This skills mismatch can lead to underemployment or unemployment among migrant labour, ultimately hindering their economic and social integration into the host society.

In conclusion, understanding

the demographic composition of migrant labour force

, including its nationalities and regions of origin, age distribution, gender balance, and skills and qualifications, is essential to developing policies that foster their economic and social integration into the host society. This information also allows us to address the challenges faced by migrant labour and promote a more inclusive workforce.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

Sectoral Distribution: Occupation trends reveal significant variations across different sectors of the economy. Among these, healthcare

continues to expand

, fueled by population aging, advances in medical technology, and a growing emphasis on wellness. In contrast, the manufacturing sector

has contracted

, as automation and offshoring continue to impact traditional industries. The education sector

remains robust, driven by rising enrollment levels and a growing demand for lifelong learning.

Construction also displays promising growth

potential, fueled by infrastructure spending and increased residential development.

Geographical Distribution: Employment patterns also vary significantly across different regions. In the UK, London remains a major employment hub

due to its status as a global financial and business center.

The Midlands, however, is witnessing significant economic growth

with a growing number of companies opting to establish operations in the region due to lower costs and good connectivity.

The North, however, continues to lag behind

in terms of employment opportunities, despite government efforts to revitalize the area.

Seasonal and Temporary Work: Another notable trend is the increasing prevalence of seasonal and temporary work. Many industries, such as agriculture, hospitality, and retail, rely heavily on seasonal labor

during specific periods. Additionally, the gig economy and the rise of platforms like Uber

and Deliveroo

have led to an increase in temporary and flexible work arrangements. These trends pose new challenges for policymakers, who must balance the need for a flexible labor market with the imperative of providing adequate protection and benefits to workers.

Employment Status and Earnings

Employment status significantly influences both an individual’s rights and responsibilities at work, as well as their earnings.


refers to when an individual runs their own business and is responsible for its profit or loss. In contrast,

employment contracts

establish the terms of employment between an employer and employee, outlining duties, compensation, and benefits.

Minimum Wage Compliance and Living Wages

The relationship between employment status and earnings is further complicated by minimum wage laws. Employers must comply with the minimum wage, which sets a legal floor for hourly wages. However, many argue that the minimum wage is not sufficient to cover living expenses, leading advocates to push for living wages. Self-employed individuals are not entitled to minimum wage protections but may still benefit from living wage initiatives.

Unemployment Rates and Underemployment

Understanding employment status and earnings is also crucial in interpreting unemployment data. Unemployment rates measure the percentage of the labor force without work but available and actively seeking employment. However, it does not account for those who are underemployed, meaning they hold jobs that do not utilize their skills, education, or experience to the fullest extent. This discrepancy highlights the importance of considering both employment status and earnings when evaluating labor market conditions.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

Labour Market Outcomes

Integration into the labour market is a critical aspect of migrant integration, as it directly affects the economic well-being and social inclusion of newcomers. This section examines three key factors influencing the labour market outcomes for migrant workers: language skills and proficiency,

employer attitudes towards hiring

, and

discrimination and workplace rights


Language skills and proficiency: Effective communication in the host country’s language is essential for successful labour market integration. Migrants with poor language skills face significant challenges, as they may struggle to understand job requirements, negotiate wages, or communicate with colleagues and supervisors. However, language proficiency is not the sole determinant of labour market success; other factors such as education, work experience, and cultural knowledge also play a role.

Employer attitudes towards hiring migrant workers

Employer perceptions and attitudes can significantly impact the integration of migrant workers into the labour market. Negative stereotypes or biases may lead to discrimination in hiring practices, limiting opportunities for migrants. On the other hand, positive attitudes and a willingness to embrace diversity can create an inclusive work environment that fosters the integration and success of newcomers.

Discrimination and workplace rights

Discrimination and workplace rights violations are common challenges faced by migrant workers. These issues can manifest in various ways, such as unfair hiring practices, wage theft, or harassment and abuse. Legal protections against discrimination and workplace rights violations are essential to ensure that migrant workers are treated fairly and equitably. However, despite existing laws, enforcement remains a challenge in many countries. Strengthening labour regulations and increasing awareness among employers, employees, and policymakers is crucial to addressing these issues and promoting fair and inclusive labour markets for all.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

Impact on Native Labour Force

Competition for Jobs and Wages

The influx of foreign workers can lead to intense competition for jobs and wages among the native labour force. This competition can result in downward pressure on wages, making it challenging for local workers to maintain a decent standard of living. However, it is essential to note that foreign workers often fill roles that are not desirable or feasible for the native labour force, thereby creating employment opportunities in sectors where local workers may not be interested.

Skills Upgrading and Human Capital Development

The presence of foreign workers can also act as a catalyst for skills upgrading and human capital development among the native labour force. By observing the work ethic, skills, and expertise of foreign workers, local workers can learn new techniques and methods that may enhance their own productivity and employability. Furthermore, initiatives can be implemented to provide training programs for the native labour force, enabling them to acquire skills that are in demand and reducing their reliance on low-skilled jobs.

Social Cohesion and Community Relations

Lastly, the integration of foreign workers into the local labour force can significantly impact social cohesion and community relations. It is crucial for efforts to be made to promote mutual understanding, respect, and acceptance between native workers and foreign workers. Effective communication channels should be established, and policies that address potential tensions and conflicts should be put in place. By fostering positive relationships between the two groups, communities can benefit from the diverse skills, experiences, and perspectives that foreign workers bring.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics

Future Prospects:

Brexit and Post-Pandemic Labour Market Adjustments

The Brexit decision and the post-pandemic economic recovery are set to bring significant changes to the UK labour market. Let’s explore these adjustments in detail.

Free Movement of People and Work Permits

With Brexit, the free movement of people between the UK and the European Union (EU) has ended. This means that EU citizens will no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK, and vice versa. Instead, they will need to apply for work permits. The new immigration system is expected to prioritise skilled workers and those who have job offers. This could lead to a more selective labour market, potentially affecting sectors that heavily rely on unskilled or low-skilled EU labour.

Economic Recovery and Changing Employment Needs

The economic recovery from the pandemic is another factor influencing the labour market. Many businesses have been forced to adapt to remote working, automation, and other cost-saving measures. This trend is likely to continue even after the pandemic. The changing employment needs could lead to a surge in demand for certain skills, such as technology and data analysis. On the other hand, sectors like hospitality and retail may continue to struggle.

Public Perception and Political Responses

The public perception and political responses to these labour market adjustments are also worth considering. There is growing concern about the potential impact on jobs, particularly in sectors affected by Brexit and the pandemic. Some politicians have called for increased government intervention to support affected workers. Others argue that these changes are necessary to boost productivity and competitiveness in the long run.


In conclusion, Brexit and the post-pandemic economic recovery are set to bring about significant labour market adjustments. These changes include new immigration rules, a shift towards more skilled workers, and potential job losses in certain sectors. The public perception and political responses will play a crucial role in shaping the labour market’s future.

Migrants in the UK Labour Market: An Overview - Current Trends and Statistics


In the current digital age, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have emerged as game-changers in various sectors, including healthcare, education, finance, transportation, and manufacturing. According to recent statistics, the global AI market size is projected to reach $327.2 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 19.5% from 2021 to 2026 (link). Furthermore, trends indicate that AI and ML are increasingly being used to automate repetitive tasks, analyze data, and make informed decisions.

Recap of Main Findings

Based on our analysis, we found that AI and ML are revolutionizing industries by improving productivity, reducing errors, and enhancing customer experiences. For instance, in healthcare, AI is being used to diagnose diseases, develop personalized treatment plans, and monitor patient health remotely (link). In education, AI is being used to personalize learning and provide instant feedback to students (link). In finance, AI is being used to detect fraud, make investment decisions, and provide financial advice (link).

Implications for Policymakers, Employers, and the General Public

The widespread adoption of AI and ML has significant implications for policymakers, employers, and the general public. Policymakers need to ensure that regulations are in place to protect privacy, security, and ethical concerns related to AI and ML. Employers need to invest in upskilling their workforce to adapt to the changing job market and provide opportunities for continuous learning. The general public needs to be educated about the benefits and risks of AI and ML to make informed decisions about their use.

Future Research Directions

Despite the advancements in AI and ML, there are still many opportunities for future research. One direction is to focus on data analysis, including developing more sophisticated algorithms for handling large and complex datasets, and improving data preprocessing techniques. Another direction is to conduct policy evaluations to assess the impact of AI and ML on society and to develop guidelines for ethical use. Lastly, qualitative studies can provide valuable insights into the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of AI and ML adoption and use.


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June 16, 2024