Recent political reforms in the European Union warmed up the discussion about the impacts of the increased labour mobility in the United Kingdom. The literature towards this topic is extremely diverse and controversial but one of the commonly accepted factors is that the topic is under researched and overlooked by academics. This work will attempt to fill the gap in the knowledge and discuss impact of the increased migration on the labour markets of tourism and hospitality industry.
Keywords: migration, labour market, tourism and hospitality, migrant workers.
The enlargement European Union in 2004 brought to the UK over six million migrants who are seeking for employment and permanent basis of living (Scullion and Pemberton, 2015). Commonly migration have been seen as a positive phenomenon and a flexible tool to help the economy to recover, however several papers have recently pointed out concerns related to the competitiveness on the labour markets, wages and quality of provided services (Scullion and Pemberton, 2015). The research of Longhi and colleagues (2010) did not recognise heavy effects on the employment markets including wages and competition but highlighted that the effects is more clear in the smaller communities rather than bigger regions. It have been stated that migration carried out positive impact on the economy of UK as it brought much needed skills and boosted productivity of the workers (Economic Outlook, 2006). The literature about this topic is extremely diverse; several academics see migration as a positive flow for the sector, as well as others state that the outcomes from increased migration are negative. However, there is no chance that such movement will remain without consequences and it has forced academics to examine the phenomenon, but mostly from the behavioural point of view (Ladkin, 2011). Most of the studies concentrate on the experience of the migrant workers and discuss the topic from the workerâ€™s perspective overlooking the impact on the economy and labour markets in general.
Despite the fact that migrant workers are well educated and have high levels of work ethics and motivation, the migrants are seen as cheap, unskilled labour that occupies low-skilled jobs including seasonal and low paid vacancies (Dustmann et al., 2005). According to the statistics, one of ten tourism jobs in tourism are occupied by migrants and only in London over 70% of all the workforce in the tourism and hospitality sectors consist of foreign employees (Economic Outlook, 2006; Piso, 2014). It is characteristic for the sector that it is dominated by the students, part-time workers, low-skilled labour, seasonal and often unstable working conditions and is popular among migrants with limited language abilities. However, migrant workers are filling those gaps that native workers are not willing to do, but still natives cannot be perfectly replaced with migrants (Duncan, 2014; Kangasniemi et al., 2014). The migrant employees attract employers, as they are willing to stay in the job for longer, have higher level of commitment and motivation and have lower pay expectations then native workers (Zopiatis et al., 2014). Increased levels of migration will carry out same outcomes as regular rise in the labour supply and will put pressure on salaries, increase competition and raise output and will affect tourism and hospitality industry in terms of experience, product and the image (Kangasniemi et al., 2014; Janta et al., 2011). As the phenomenon is relatively new, the long-term effects are still unclear and the evidence on the effects of migration on labour markets are extremely limited and academics argue that the issues related to the labour migration are seriously overlooked (Ladkin, 2015).
The major part of the literature identifies mostly positive impacts of the increased migration on the labour markets and economy in general, however recent discussions in the media carried out negative tone. The concern towards the impact of the migrant workers on the wages and increased competition remains the biggest concern among native workers and there is an evidence of the willing to reduce migration to the UK (Dustmann et al., 2005; Scullion and Pemberton, 2015). More to that, the research made by Blinder (2015) showed that the native population have mostly negative attitudes towards migrant workers. People construct their opinions not based on the statistics but different sources of information and own observation, therefore the media need to be extremely gentle while talking about migration as it have a colossal impact on the public opinion that can later become a problem in the society. Considering the interest towards the tourism and hospitality labour markets, the attitudes and regulations towards migrants are essential to investigate as the segment is especially important for the industry due to high number of foreign workers. The research evaluate that migrant workers are extremely underestimated among native population even that the official statistics have not yet identified any comprehensive negative impacts on the employment or wages. The agenda of this paper is that increased mobility carries serious impact on the sector, economy and labour market. However, it is almost impossible to state was the impact bad or good â€“ the phenomenon is relatively new and during these 10 years since the giant movement to the UK started, the effects cannot be seen yet with needed clarity to make the conclusion.
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