Around 2004 Banbury experienced a minor influx of Polish migrants amid fears about the impact on the local job market. The Polish community now contributes significantly to the local economy whilst Banbury’s unemployment rate stands as one of the lowest in the country, challenging the perception that immigrants compete unfairly with local talent.
The often ill-informed cry that immigrants come here to steal jobs is one that has been heard for centuries. It’s a thread that stubbornly runs through the immigration debate, along with illogical claims that migrants are simultaneously sponging off benefits. Yet successive generations are eventually accepted and integrated as vital members of our community. Many services such as the NHS, couldn’t survive without them.
Regardless of borders, the job market is now a globalised proposition. Effective training and education are the real keys to safeguarding employment in the UK, with properly enforced wage regulations to protect all workers, meaning migrants would not be able to out-compete simply because they agree to lower pay.
Tighter border control might seem like an easy fix for migration imbalances, but we’re already seeing the impact of that argument on the labour market, particularly for seasonal workers since we left the EU. I’d argue tackling the underlying issues would provide more efficient and equitable solutions for everyone in the long term.