I wanted to blog on immigration as it seems like this is a subject no one wants to talk about properly and if you read that odious rag the daily mail or the Tory/UKIP voices from the leave campaign I fear verges on the xenophobia, where everything wrong in the world is blamed unfairly on migrants.
One of the phrases we sometimes hear is “foreigners nicking our jobs”, but let us unpack this phrase a little…
Firstly, who are foreigners? Most of us if we traced our history back far enough probably has some non-Anglo Saxon in us, we are a nation that has always had immigration, and sadly migrants have often been scapegoated of all societies ills!
Also the idea of “our” jobs is an interesting concept, we live in a multicultural society in a globalised world, and as such we will meet different people from different nations in the jobs pool, the idea that where we were (or weren’t) born should give us any extra advantage (or disadvantage) is actually pretty offensive, the best person should get the job by nature of being the person those conducting the interview thought was the best candidate.
Yet it is worth pointing out that migration is only one small factor in the whole employment debate… Here is a few more…
In many areas jobs haven’t been taken by migrants rather they have been shipped out overseas to avoid paying proper wages to their workers, in what is one of the great scandals of our generation when we think of the amount of slave and sweat shop labour exists in this world. Countries where workers have rights, unions and legislation to protect them loose out on employment possibilities due to this despicable practice, which disproportionally effects people on unskilled and semi skilled work.
Criminalisation occurs where many migrants are exploited through human trafficking and illegal working hours with cash in hand payments, which is again is not migrants “nicking” jobs but rather the culture of exploitation both legal and illegal bring far to pervasive In our society which hurts not just those caught up in these despicable trades but the poorest in our society.
In the 80s many of our employment industries such as coal mining, steel works and shipyards decimated the employment prospects of many areas, especial rural areas in the north of England, Scotland and Wales.
As the 80s progressed the technological revolution made many jobs obsolete and continues to do so, as the age of 3D printers dawns how is this going to effect our manufacturing and industry?
The truth is irrespective of immigration employment in many areas been in crisis in many communities for decades.
Many of those caught in this cycles of unemployment, poverty and depravation feel marginalised and disenfranchised, one estate I worked in had really high proportion of young people classed as Neets (Not in Education, Employment or Training) were described as having ‘poverty of aspiration’ which many of us felt it was also matched by ‘poverty of opportunity’, so tragically, but not unexpectedly there are vast numbers of people who never reach their potential and feel ‘the system failed them’.
This is a national problem that is acute in places both with high immigration as well as areas where immigration is low. To me the real question how can we engage with disenfranchised communities in regeneration and transformation?
To people feeling excluded it is easy for narratives of jealousy and injustice to rise up where migrants get scapegoated.
Many areas of high immigration often already placed in deprived communities with existing tensions, sometimes the work which again get exploited by unscrupulous and irresponsible right wing political narrative.
The solution to employment is not blaming immigration, but talking about global ethics and local community regeneration and transformation.