According to a quarterly report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), net migration has reached an all-time high of 330,000 in the year ending in March 2015, up 94,000 from the previous year.
A significant rise in immigration, up 84,000, was met with a drop of 9,000 in those emigrating from the UK, producing what the ONS described as a ‘statistically significant’ increase and the highest net migration on record.
Net migration of EU citizens showed a statistically significant increase to 183,000 (up 53,000 from the previous year). The increase in non-EU net migration to 196,000 (up 39,000) was also deemed significant and is a result of a marginal increase in immigration and a much larger decrease in emigration.
Including dependants and short term visas, there were 168,544 work-related visas granted in the year ending June 2015, up 6 percent (+9,313) compared with the previous year. There were increases in Tier 2 skilled work (+7,977) and Tier 5 Youth mobility (+2,679 main applicants) as well as a reduction in the number of dependants in routes now closed to new applicants (Tier 1 General -1,779; Tier 1 Post Study -1,141). In the year ending March 2015, the ONS estimate that there were 64,000 non-EU long-term immigrants for work, a statistically significant increase of a third (+33%; +16,000) compared with the previous 12 months.
Gerwyn Davies is a labour market adviser at the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD).
“News that net long-term migration hit a record high in the twelve months to March 2015 isn’t a great surprise given the ‘magnetic’ nature of the UK jobs market at this moment in time,” he said in response to the latest quarterly migration ONS statistics. “It’s alluring for EU migrants, given the high number of jobs being generated in comparison to other European countries, and ongoing recruitment difficulties are encouraging some employers to proactively recruit EU migrants. CIPD research recently showed that one in ten employers with recruitment difficulties are currently hiring EU migrants from their home country, which may partly reflect the fact that almost two thirds of EU migrants who come to the UK to live and work have a definite job when they arrive here.
“The fact that three-quarters of the growth in employment over the last year was accounted for by foreign nationals highlights just how competitive our labour market is. In response, Government must redouble its efforts to ensure that UK born young people have access to better career information advice and guidance and create more quality vocational training routes into employment, such as apprenticeships, so they can compete in a tough labour market.
“The less significant increase in immigration for work purposes among non-EU citizens is also interesting to see, given that the Government looks set to introduce further restrictions on non-EU workers. If further cuts need to be made, the Government must look at the distribution and the true value of the different routes through which non-EU migrants come to the UK to live and work.”