Flood is barely a trickle

Jul 08 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

There has been no significant influx of workers to the UK since the enlargement of the European Union two months ago, according to official figures and the flood of eastern Europeans predicted by some never materialised.

Home Office data shows that just over 24,000 workers from EU Accession States have signed onto the Worker Registration Scheme since May. But of these, 14,400 applications were from people already in the UK before May 1 and only 8,000 new applications were made after that date.

Moreover, the figures for the last half of June are 25 per cent below those for late May, suggesting that the number of people registering has already peaked.

The data, gathered from embassies in the UK and the new EU States, also suggests that those who have registered are overwhelmingly young and single.

The majority of new registrations – almost six out of ten - were from Poland, followed by Lithuania and Slovakia.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, said that the migrants from Eastern Europe were filling skills gaps in areas such as agriculture, hospitality and catering and administration and management.

He added that the new arrivals included 61 accountants, 53 nurses, 25 teachers and four lawyers and that there was no evidence of ‘benefit tourism’ since only six claims for income support had been granted.

Meanwhile separate research by recruitment specialist Manpower also highlights that the feared flood of migrants hardly amounts to a trickle.

A survey of Manpower’s 300 UK branch offices across the UK found that more than half had seen fewer than ten new jobseekers from the new EU member states, while 11 per cent had seen none at all. One in five branches reported that they had between 10-20 new EU jobseekers.

Research conducted for Manpower earlier this year found that more than one in five (21 per cent) of companies in the UK were suffering from skills shortages and nearly a quarter believe that using workers from new accession countries could help plug this gap.

Ruth Hounslow, head of public affairs at Manpower, said: "Employers need to be flexible to consider a wide range of people for those 'hard to fill' roles, be they unemployed people, women returning to work, those with disabilities, older workers or those from the new EU accession countries."