Great Britain is experiencing an immigration crisis of its own, not only in terms of the potential security threat in a time of increasing extremism in Islam, but in terms of jobs for its “own” British citizens. In a dialogue that has been quite similar to the current national dialogue in the United States, immigrants are viewed with a mixture of suspicion and wary acceptance.
Great Britain has been lucky to be rebounding back from the recent global recession, at least more so than Italy, Spain, and other such countries. Jamie Oliver said that British youth were “wet behind the ears”; immigrants were the ones who were willing to staff the restaurants and work hard. In certain towns, there are not enough people who are willing to get up at 6 AM for work. Even in jobs with higher qualifications, such as nursing, hiring directors often search and obtain candidates from the continent because there is a lack of qualified candidates in the United Kingdom.
This dialogue is similar to the United States, with migrants from Latin America filling positions that require less education and demand more hard work (that Americans allegedly will not do) and jobs in the Silicon Valley being filled by immigrants whose companies sponsor their work visas.
My own parents benefited from the latter program. Thus I can’t really say that I oppose hiring immigrants when tech companies, or any company, see a vacuum in the domestic hiring and must go abroad to find talent, whether in the United States or Great Britain. But the New York Times article that inspired this blog post gave me pause—David Goodhart, a member of the center-left and a critic of immigration, states that plentiful foreign labor not only betrays a social contract in Britain, but “reinforces many of the weaknesses of the British economic structure, such as short-termism and lack of training”.
Great Britain and the United States are both benefiting from institutions and an economy that have allowed its people to thrive and the country to attract immigrants from all over the world. While we have this steady stream of immigrants, the fact that some of these tech companies would rather spend the money to sponsor these immigrants and assist them in relocation indicates something wrong in the number of US students who are trained appropriately for tech, among other sectors. Likewise, jobs that require less education and training, but more hardship in terms of work hour and actual work conditions, do not have the pay and benefits that could sustain a family, causing turnover to be high and for the jobs to not be appealing to US “residents”.
Perhaps it isn’t a matter of US and British citizens being “spoiled”—perhaps it is immigrants who have fewer options and take the few opportunities available to them. Their American Dream is to work their way out of those jobs and be replaced by another wave of immigrants. Perhaps that model should be questioned.