A shocking new study from University College London has aimed to examine the educational levels of the United Kingdom, paying attention to both Brits emigrating overseas and those of other nationalities entering the kingdom. The extensive research suggests that as many as 10% of highly skilled Brits now live overseas, and that Britain is at risk of becoming a “top heavy” society thanks to unequal international movement.
The first question is why such a large proportion of highly skilled British workers are seeking to leave UK shores to seek their fortunes overseas? As it turns out, the reason for this emigration of British talent isn’t as clear as it might first appear. On the one hand British expats earn considerably more money overseas; the report suggests that Brits living and working in the USA for example enjoy an extra $800 per month in income.
Generally, they’re far healthier too and suffer from fewer medical conditions. Expats in the USA are 25% more likely to experience health that is classified as “excellent” or “very good”. There is a trade-off however. Respondents from North America also worked on average 11 hours a week longer than their UK-based cohorts.
What is perhaps even more interesting than seeing the number of highly skilled British workers who become expats is how immigration into the UK is affecting the overall numeracy rate.
According to the research, Britain has welcomed around 2.4 million immigrants since the early 1960’s, from a diverse range of nations. Interestingly, these immigrants are statistically 16% more likely to hold a university degree than the general British population. In theory this should suggest a gradual increase in the overall education level of the country but the statistics paint a rather different picture.
It appears that while highly-educated migrants from Asia are arriving in healthy numbers, immigrants from other countries are stymying this educational growth. According to the study one in four British adults with numeracy problems is actually an immigrant. The report, produced by Dr Jerrim, suggests that African immigrants are 6 times more likely to have poor number skills, and the large number of migrants from such areas may be reducing the overall numeracy of the British population.
What this means in reality is that Britain is at risk of becoming a divided, “top heavy” society. On the one hand 10% of all the highly skilled workers move abroad for work, while less well-educated immigrants make up the numbers in the UK. There are suggestions that this may create increasing competition for jobs at the lower end of the labour market, while leaving Britain worryingly short of the experience sought at the other end of the scale.