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Young People and Migration in the UK: An Overview – Migration Observatory


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The University of Oxford based Migration Observatory has published a new report on young migrants. It reads a little like the introductory sequence to The Six Million Dollar Man. The key points:

  • Migrants tend to be young when they arrive, typically as young adults coming for work or study, or as children accompanying their parents.
  • Most young people whose first or main language is not English also speak good English. They tend to have lower educational achievement when they start school, but they make faster progress and so the gap is largely eliminated by age 16.
  • Young migrants are more likely to have degree-level qualifications than the UK born.
  • Employment outcomes for young migrants vary depending on their country of origin, gender, and age at arrival in the UK. EEA migrants have high employment rates but are overrepresented in low-skilled work; non-EEA migrants are overrepresented in high-skilled jobs but have lower employment rates.
  • International students who remain in the UK after their studies have more favourable labour market outcomes than the average across the foreign-born population.
  • It is too early to predict the impact of Brexit on the numbers and outcomes of young migrants living in the UK, although several future scenarios involve a shift in the balance of future migration towards people from non-EU countries.

Poland, India, Pakistan, Germany and Romania make up 5 of the top 6 countries of origin for both under 30’s and the foreign-born population as a whole. The table on reasons for coming to the UK is divided by EEA/non-EEA and shows that proportionately more EEA migrants come for economic reasons and more non-EEA migrants come for study and as family or dependants.

On Brexit, the report reiterates that if the UK Government requires EEA migrants int he UK to prove they are qualified persons, significant numbers of them will be excluded. The report points out that students (generally young people) are one of the groups in potential danger:

People who are most likely to face difficulties meeting a permanent-residence-style requirement include the self-employed, who may find it difficult to produce the necessary paperwork; very low earners, whose work in the UK may not be deemed sufficient for them to qualify as ‘workers’ under EU rules; and students or ‘self-sufficient’ people, who are expected to have comprehensive sickness insurance in the UK but who may not have been aware of this requirement.

Source: Young People and Migration in the UK: An Overview – Migration Observatory – The Migration Observatory

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Colin Yeo

Immigration and asylum barrister, blogger, writer and consultant at Garden Court Chambers in London and founder of the Free Movement immigration law website.