The British government announced a new immigration policy on Wednesday that adopts an ‘Australian-style’ point system. Free movement, an EU policy, will end on 1 January 2021 and the point system will be utilized from then on. 


 

Characteristics Tradeable Points
Offer of job by approved sponsor No 20
Job at appropriate skill level No 20
Speaks English at required level No 10
Salary of £20,480 (minimum) – £23,039 Yes 0
Salary of £23,040 – £25,599 Yes 10
Salary of £25,600 or above Yes 20
Job in a shortage occupation (as designated by the MAC) Yes 20
Education qualification: PhD in subject relevant to the job Yes 10
Education qualification: PhD in a STEM subject relevant to the job Yes 20

In order to be eligible to apply to work in the UK, an applicant would need 70 points from the chart above, with points being awarded for positions or occupations of which there is a shortage in the UK. The government’s intention is to prevent low-skilled, non-English speaking EU workers from entering the UK who, it is argued, oversaturate the market. The newly announced policy can be viewed in its entirety through this link

Clearly, this overhauling of the immigration system is a maturation of the Brexit-era of British politics that aims to separate the UK from the EU — something that has divided the country. The points system is sure to be controversial, especially concerning the requirement that immigrants must be able to speak English — arguably creating a racist and xenophobic narrative around the policy. 

Despite its ensuing controversy though, I would like to examine some potential benefits. Particularly, I want to highlight how this point system might benefit the youth of the UK. 

Through free movement, immigrants from European countries have been able to move to the UK. This is something which has, as a government-issued statement said, ‘been failing to meet the needs of the British people’, and the new policy aims to change that. Currently, according to this article by the the Metro, it is estimated that 70 per cent of the EU workforce living in the UK would not meet the requirements set by this new bill. 

What this means is that too many do not speak English at the level desired, or they are not skilled enough in their line of work. If only skilled workers (or those who can fill gaps where there are shortages) from the EU are able to move to the UK, the hope of the government is that it will strengthen the economy and benefit the British people in the long term.

Interestingly, the policy offers young UK citizens who have finished school and are looking for jobs more opportunities to find them. If low-skilled workers from the EU are prevented from working in the UK, young British people just entering the workforce could have more chances of securing and maintaining a job, thereby lessening the country’s reliance on a European workforce.

Ultimately though, this new immigration policy is an opportunity for the UK to pay its people a proper, fair and legal wage. If the government wants to aid the British people by giving them better opportunities to find work, then it must hold corporations to higher standards of accountability. These production conglomerates must be made to pay their workers a fair rate, and the point system could facilitate the process to wards greater justice and transparency.

It is a widespread fear that migrants are coming into the UK and taking British peoples’ jobs. These stereotypes paint a narrative that migrant European workers are willing to work harder and be paid less than British workers. With this new policy, these fears can hopefully be put to rest as British people, especially young British people, will have opportunities previously unavailable — if the stereotype is to be believed. 

Despite the negatives that come with having closed borders and a stricter immigration policy, there is arguably a silver lining: a more occupationally secure British workforce.