According to a study to be released in the summer by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Kingdom is losing valuable skilled workers to emigration while the number of low-skilled foreign workers entering the country is rising.
The number of UK nationals emigrating from the UK has increased significantly in the last few years, with a large percentage of them leaving professional and managerial positions. For the most part, they are being replaced by foreign workers with less robust qualifications - many from the new European Union nations that joined the bloc in 2004.
From 2000 through 2005, a total of 272,000 Britons emigrated from the UK, while a total of 639,000 foreigners immigrated to the UK. A higher percentage of emigrants were professionals or managers than immigrants. With the population of Britain expected to rise to 69 million people by 2050, there is a worry that the country will become less globally competitive as time goes on and the current trend continues.
Recent UK immigration policy changes may not be helping. At the end of 2006, the UK made the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP) - a points based system designed to bring in skilled workers - arguably more difficult. The government also decided to apply the changes retrospectively to people already in the UK on an HSMP visa. As a result, many skilled immigrants may not qualify for HSMP extensions or other visa categories, with some already receiving letters asking them to leave the country.
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