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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  July 2011  /  Satisfying UK Labour Demand through Migration

Satisfying UK Labour Demand through Migration

Migration Research Unit report to Home Office published by the European Migration Network

Satisfying UK Labour Demand through Migration

July 2011 sees the publication of the UK National Report to the European Commission’s European Migration Network on Satisfying Labour Demand through Migration. It was prepared for the UK Home Office by a team based in the UCL Migration Research Unit, led by Professor John Salt.


The report shows how the approach to economic migration policy in the UK has changed significantly since the mid 1990s, when it was regarded as a basis for selecting skilled workers from third countries to support economic competitiveness. In 2008, what had become an over-complex work permit scheme was also replaced by the Points-Based System (PBS). Now, the emphasis is on reducing net third country labour immigration by raising the qualifications and salary thresholds required and placing annual limits on the numbers admitted.


The report focuses on trends in the UK foreign-born labour stock between 2004 and 2009. There was a significant shift in both its scale and skill levels, with numbers rising by almost 50 per cent. The most significant growth was from Eastern Europe, but over half of the foreign-born stock in 2009 were still from non-EU countries. These made a particular contribution to the growth of highly skilled workers and, in general, the UK policy of confining such immigration to skilled workers, including those in shortage occupations, had been successful.


The economic downturn since 2007 makes predicting future trends, including the effects of tighter immigration policies, uncertain. The 2004-9 period was affected by one-off events such as expansion of the EU and the introduction of the PBS. Rapid growth in public services also attracted many immigrant workers. Intra-company transfers (ICTs) of skilled workers within multinational companies also present difficulties in the context of growing economic globalisation.


The Report is available, with those submitted from other EU countries, at:



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