Rising youth unemployment could be linked to the arrival of workers from eastern Europe, says a campaign group.
A report by Migration Watch UK, which wants tighter immigration controls, claims British job seekers may be losing out because of the extra competition.
But the government has dismissed the research, saying immigrants shouldn’t be used as a ‘scapegoat’.
Twenty-two-year old Andrew Wells (left) and his friend 24-year-old Anthony High are killing time on a bench in Peterborough city centre.
They both blame an influx of immigrants for stopping them finding full time jobs.
“I’m unemployed,” says Andrew.
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It’s frustrating because all the work’s taken. They’ll do it for cheaper than I would
Anthony High, 24
“In my last job, there was something like 80% eastern Europeans there and only something like 20% British people.”
Anthony added: “I’ve got a part-time job. It’s frustrating because all the work’s taken. They’ll do it for cheaper than I would.”
Migration Watch campaigns for tighter controls on who is allowed to live and work in the UK.
Its latest report argues that people like Andrew and Anthony are part of a bigger trend.
It does that by linking two sets of official figures and arguing that there must be a link.
Around 600,000 people have entered the UK from eastern Europe since countries like Poland and Hungary first joined the European Union in 2004.
Over the same period, youth unemployment has risen by about 450,000.
Sir Andrew Green, the director of Migration Watch, says there’s almost certainly a link: “We can’t prove that statistically, but nor can you disprove it statistically.
We can’t prove that statistically, but nor can you disprove it statistically
Sir Andrew Green, Migration Watch
“Most of the East Europeans were young, of course. They were prepared to work for low wages, and they were highly motivated as any employer will tell you.”
“I didn’t do very well at school,” says Anthony, “so a lot of the work I would do would be electrician, builder work, trade work.
“The problem is, all the Polish people [and others] are coming and taking over those jobs.”
Critics however say the report is flawed and that even Migration Watch itself admits it doesn’t prove a link between new immigrants and rising youth joblessness.
Rennard says he is in England as there aren’t many jobs in Lithuania
The Office of National Statistics says there’s “growing” evidence that foreign workers are mostly taking jobs young Brits just won’t do.
Andrew disagrees: “Personally I don’t think there is such a thing as a job I wouldn’t do,” he says.
Rennard from Lithuania is on his way to work in a factory: “We are here because we don’t have jobs in our own country either,” says the 24-year-old.
“English people are very friendly,” he adds, “but you can see sometimes in their eyes they don’t like you because you are an immigrant.
“I am a furniture designer and I want to set up my own business. I came here to find my future.”
SOURCE: BBC © 2011