1 September, 2014 - 13:04 By Tony Quested

Immigrant workers boost UK economy by £210 billion

The worth of inpats to the Cambridge, London and UK economies is revealed at £210 billion – 15 per cent of total gross value added (GVA) – in a Lloyds Bank report.

So when UKIP and others complain about the number of foreign workers in the UK more than doubling from 7.3 per cent of total employment in Q1 1997 to 15 per cent in Q1 2014, one hopes they will balance the books by showing the commercial worth of this rich pool of talent.

More than 40 per cent of UK inpats work in London but professional and technical sectors – especially communications and the financial services – in Cambridge and other regions of the South East are also benefiting hugely.

But the most eye-catching statistic in the entire report concerns the respective qualifications of UK and inpat workers.

Inward talent from the United States is the most qualified that enters the UK, with 57 per cent of the US-born adult population living  here having a qualification at level four or above.

In comparison, just 26 per cent of UK-born individuals have level four qualifications or higher – which is lower than the share for inward talent from the EU and other countries. More than a third of foreign workers are educated to level 4 or above.

This kind of report and these kind of figures often miss out on the headlines – nowhere near as sensational as ‘Foreign workers taking all our jobs,’ says Nigel Nosense. A portrait of immigrant workers as highly skilled and making an important contribution to the wealth of the nation isn’t on the palette range of the xenophobes.

Jamsheed Poncha, head of client services, UK wealth at Lloyds Bank sums it up nicely in the report: “The findings of the research clearly demonstrate the strength of the UK economy and its ability to attract a highly qualified professional workforce from around the world. The contribution inward talent can make to key industries is impressive as it ultimately helps the economy prosper even more.”

There’s another ‘ouch’ for the naysayers in the Lloyds report. Inpats who enter the UK and gain employment are more likely to work in senior or highly skilled positions such as managerial and technical roles than UK nationals are.

For example, 31 per cent of inpats from the US employed within this country are in a professional occupation whereas the share is only 17 per cent for UK-born citizens.

Just as universities want the best brains to maintain standards so companies need to be able to hire the best talent, whether they come from Tooting or Timbuktu. 

Fortunately for Cambridge and the UK, enough employers realise that recruiting and retaining talent is a question of keeping up standards – not appearances. Political correctness has its place and that should not be engineered at the expense of what is right for the people of this county and the UK economy.

Ignorant people need protecting from themselves and their worst excesses for the greater good. Billions of pounds tumbling into the Treasury, rising quality in our workforce and increased commercial clout for our businesses are essentials in an increasingly global and fiercely competitive world.

It used to be hard putting a price on cultural diversity – not any longer.

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