Could Yorkshire Businesses Benefit from an Influx of International Workers?

Could Yorkshire Businesses Benefit from an Influx of International Workers (1)

There is no shortage of talent in Yorkshire. From north to south, east to west, there are skilled workers, enthusiastic entrepreneurs and people who help keep the wheels of society turning smoothly. However, when you look at the labour statistics, there are some shortcomings. As noted by the Office for National Statistics, 76.5% of Yorkshire and Humber were economically active in July 2023 (i.e. have a job of some kind). The national average is 78.9%, as of July 2023 [1].

There are many reasons Yorkshire is slightly below the national average. For example, the region has a high student population which is classed as economically inactive. What’s also apparent, however, is that there is a level of economic inactivity in the region that needs to be addressed. Bringing Yorkshire in line with the UK average requires interventions at various levels, but local businesses have a role to play. Creating more attractive roles, through competitive salaries and initiatives such as working from home [2], are simple ways to generate more economic activity.

There Could Be More Migrants in the Working Population

Wrapped up in the data on local economic activity is the matter of foreign residents. Again, although the numbers are solid, Yorkshire is lagging behind the national average when it comes to foreign residents. According to the most recent data from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, Yorkshire and Humber’s population is made up of 535,000 people born in other countries. That’s around 10% of the local population. The national average is 14.4%. Looking at the employment data, “non-UK born” residents account for 12% of the working population in Yorkshire and Humber.

Therefore, when local businesses are looking to recruit more people and, in turn, increase the region’s economic activity, there’s a case to be made for employing more people not born in the UK. Doing this requires a combination of legal knowledge, an understanding of what foreign workers want and how to integrate them into the workplace. Knowing what foreign workers want and how to integrate them requires some research into other cultures. That’s something you can do in-house, but the legal bit is harder. Someone not born in the UK but with residency is easy to employ because they have the same rights as someone born in the UK.

Could Yorkshire Businesses Benefit from an Influx of International Workers (2)

Tapping into the Migrant Worker Population

The real paperwork starts when you want to employ a non-UK native who doesn’t have residency. In these cases, you need to navigate the UK visa and immigration requirements. For example, if you are recruiting for a skilled role, you need to have a sponsor licence as an employer, and the foreign workers need to apply for a skilled worker visa. It stipulates a list of requirements for employers and employees, such as a minimum salary, qualifications to at least RQF level 3 and reporting obligations. Immigration lawyers versed in how skilled worker visas work and how to apply for them can help businesses navigate the process efficiently and effectively, which is why it can be wise to delegate this task.

Making more use of the local migrant population isn’t the only way to improve Yorkshire’s economic activity, but it’s a viable option. There are clear areas for improvement in terms of the non-native workforce and the general working population in Yorkshire. Local businesses can help address these shortcomings by making their roles more attractive to people across the board. From Yorkshire born and raised to migrants, employing more people will be better for businesses and, in turn, the region as a whole.

Further Reading
1. Yorkshire and Humber economic activity statistics
2. Creating comfortable workplaces


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