The UK Migrant Cap, Migrant Mobility and Employer Implications

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Abstract

Advocates of the “borderless world” thesis suggest that migrant workers can benefit from employment opportunities available everywhere, with workers simply migrating towards these opportunities. However, as global inequalities widen and potential global mobilities develop, states are “managing” migration. Individual migrant “agency”, its structuration, and the subsequent experiences of migrants and employers, can restrict such mobility. Consequently, there is a need to describe and problematize the new strategies. This article considers these issues with reference to the emerging impact of the migrant cap on non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrants to the United Kingdom (UK). It explores the links between immigration and employment rights and the implications for migrant mobility. Policies of “managed migration” frequently do not take into account issues of geography and intra and inter regional competition for migrants by employers operating in sectors with skill shortages, or differential migrant “agency” in the form of their skills and attributes. This may impinge on the effectiveness of such approaches and on economic prosperity at a national, regional and local scale.

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