Employment and occupational skill levels among UK and foreign nationals

Document type
Campbell, Stuart; Cooper, Jacquie; Simmons, Jon
Home Office
Date of publication
19 February 2014
Occasional paper; 108
Employment, Minority Groups
Social welfare
Material type

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Over most of the last decade, employment levels in the UK rose faster among foreign nationals than among UK nationals. However, in 2012 and 2013 the share of employment growth attributed to UK nationals increased, as the share attributed to foreign nationals fell. Using data from the Labour Force Survey, this report examines this change, and places it in the context of longer-term labour market trends for UK and foreign nationals.

Lower-skilled employment has been falling consistently for UK nationals over the past decade, while such employment has been growing among foreign nationals. This pattern was disrupted in 2012, which saw the first substantial rise in lower-skilled employment for UK nationals in a decade. At the same time, the number of foreign nationals in lower-skilled employment started to fall, particularly among non-EU nationals. This change also coincided with policy tightening on the student and family immigration routes for non-EU nationals, and measures to restrict work routes to skilled occupations. However, at the same time, recent economic conditions may have caused shifts in the type of employment taken up by UK and foreign nationals.

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