Hire Brit’s first?

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Tim the Fox was fired from his job of guarding the hen house after repeatedly falling asleep on the job.

One example of the delusions you’ll get from the UKIP mob is why don’t firms hire British people first? If anything this merely shows how out of touch they are with modern the modern work place.

As anyone who works in HR will tell you the reality is that they are usually swamped with CV’s for any job, the vast majority of whom are people from the local job’s centre who have been told to apply for any job that comes up, even if they’ve got nothing like the qualifications for that job. Or you get CV’s off people who are sufficiently desperate that they think that a year’s experience at B & Q would qualify them for the post of professor of Engineering.

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HR have to wade through this mass of CV’s to pick out the genuine candidates. Increasingly some resort to using software to do it. Even then its not a simple case of picking the candidate who is the best match. Often you can end up with several good candidates, some may even exceed the requirements, but will presumably demand a higher wage (so you’ll be getting better than you wanted, but paying the maximum advertised salary). Others might just meet the minimum requirements, but will often be more flexible (i.e. will take a lower salary and can start straight away). Its difficult enough for bosses to weight up these dilemma’s as it is without complicating matters further.

Furthermore, I would question the central premise that foreigners find it easier to get a job than British. Lets face it most jobs are about people skills and local knowledge. If I’m recruiting someone to be my head of sales in the West Midlands, I’ll likely go for someone with prior experience in sales in the region. A Polish or Indian candidate fresh off the boat is going to have to be pretty damn good for me to hire him over a British person.

And of course, its not what you know, but who you know that often swings it. Even in academia, I’d say at least half the jobs advertised, we’d have a candidate in mind (doesn’t mean they’ll get it, but the odds are very much in their favour!). Similarly, if I’m faced with a choice between some well qualified but random stranger from abroad and an employee of a rival firm, whom I not only know, but I’m also on first names basis with one of his referees, who do you think gets hired?

Foreigners have two advantages over British, they are a little more flexible over wages (at least until they start paying a mortgage and realise how expensive it is to live in this country!) and are more willing to relocate for the sake of work. Its a sad fact that UKIP support is strongest in places with high unemployment and not many foreigners, as they’ve moved away to where the work is, its the locals who’ve stayed behind who are the ones whining about foreigners taking their jobs.

But overall, I’d argue these two advantages are cancelled out by the hurdles a foreign migrant faces. And there’s a simple way to counter this – put up the minimum wage to encourage British unemployed to take jobs and legally enforce the payment of relocation allowances (perhaps part subsidised by the government), to allow people to relocate for the sake of work.

In all likelihood, this “hire British first” routine would simply become a box ticking exercise. e.g. They line up 5 British candidates in the morning, one of them a candidate who they genuinely want to talk to, the other 4, no hoper’s from the jobs centre. Interview them all, conclude that they aren’t sure any are suitable, then interview 3 foreigners after lunch (even if they still give the job to the Brit they saw in the morning).

Already such box ticking exercises exist for minorities or anyone with a disability. Put that on your supposedly secret “diversity monitoring” section of the application form and you can all but be guaranteed to be called for interview (not that they’ll necessarily pay you or anything!), even thought the employer has no plans to hire you, just so HR can claim they are hitting their targets for disability and inclusion.

And already some recent visa changes are causing all sorts of havoc, as they oblige firms to try and hire a British or EU citizen first, or advertise for a certain period and then interview a certain number of candidates. And generally its led to positions being left unfilled, simply because employers can’t find anyone suitable in the UK to do the job. Often they are forced to either hire temp workers and string them along on short contracts or repeatedly re-advertise the job until the find a suitable candidate.

Obviously extending this to EU citizens, as suggested by Brexiters, would end up making it even harder for private industry to recruit and they will simply leave or move the job overseas. After all in a globalised economy its not foreigners coming over here and stealing your job you need to fear but foreigners staying at home and your job moving.

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6 thoughts on “Hire Brit’s first?

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