Wednesday 5 October 2016

Let's Talk about Immigration: Young People, Jobs and Training

The Home Secretary on the Today programme said that she was happy to talk about immigration in the context of suggesting that there may be a link between immigration and lack of jobs and training opportunities for young people.

So let's talk. It is very hard to find any link in the UK between immigration, jobs and training opportunities for young people. And conversations that suggest there may be a link are probably not very helpful.

The chart below graphs the change in the  NEET rate (not in employment, education or training) for UK-Born 16 to 24 year olds alongside the change in immigration rate for each of around 200 local authorities in the UK between 2008 and 2015, a period in which immigration continued to grow rapidly  The red line  summarises the relationship between the two variables. There isn't much of one. - but if anything the NEET rate for young UK-born people fell more in areas that received more immigration.

(technical note: the source is the Annual Population Survey and the data that make up the red line are weighted to reflect the different sample sizes in each area).

Does it matter if we use EU or the eastern half (A8 and A2 migrants)? No. Equally we can do the same type of graphs for training or apprenticeship rates or different time periods - available on request - for young people and the lack of association emerges each time.

What does probably matter more for young people's chances is not immigration but the state of the local economy.  The next graph plots the association between the young person NEET rate and the changes in the local area employment rate for adults 25 and over. The association with local employment opportunities for older workers is more important than changes in immigration

Get the local economy going and NEET rates will go down and opportunities for young people will go up. That is probably a better conversation to have

Jonathan Wadsworth
CEP & Royal Holloway College

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