Coping with Open Door Immigration
It’s only now that the world is truly beginning to understand the effects of an Open Door Immigration Policy. This policy was implemented for all of the right reasons: human rights, skill shortage, refugees and the opening up of boarders within Europe, as we all embraced becoming a true united Europe.
The influx of migrant workers brought diversity, skills that were in short supply and a group of people eager to work hard to demonstrate their loyalty to their new employers. However, for some countries, the free movement of people in such vast numbers and so quickly, has had a devastating effect on the existing population.
Population growth, fuelled by immigration places a huge strain on a country’s infrastructure, such as schools, housing, health services, public transport, social welfare, policing and the environment. Around the world, countries are reassessing where they stand not only politically, but practically too. A government has a responsibility to its people; to take care of them through the management of its infrastructure, ensure the wellbeing and education of its people and to protect and encourage economic growth. As well as managing the infrastructure of public services through this period of change, a government must also devise ways of embedding new cultures into existing ones and create environments that are conducive to people living side-by-side, respecting each others’ existence.
The economic viability and growth of a country is critical and a key driver to economic growth is people, or the labour market. Having the right people for the job is critical for a business, no matter what size that business might be and so in many cases, the Open Door Policy provided access to a wider workforce, as well as easier access to new markets. Without boarders, a business could gain access to faster routes to new territories’ without the red tape that often blocked or slowed the route, allowing businesses to expand and grow more rapidly. This in turn led to the expansion of communities as businesses grew and the workforce expanded. However, it is here that problems began to emerge, as there had been no forward planning with regards to how a country might accommodate a sudden rise in migrant workers and their extended families, or refugees from conflict areas. Basic and essential services began to feel the pressure of a rising population. Schools began to face issues with not only expanding class sizes but also language barriers. Although in the UK, the upside of immigrant children entering the education system, especially in inner city schools, is that many schools saw their performance rise, thanks to the above average exam results that migrant children were achieving. The NHS became even more over loaded than it was previously, causing waiting lists to rise and costs to spiral even more out of control. This was the same for other countries, who are saw their internal health, welfare and educational services straining to cope with the increase in migrants and their dependants.
Countries around the world are now challenged with finding a solution to the issues and problems that have arisen from an Open Door Immigration Policy. Closing the door on immigration is not the answer as this could have devastating affects for businesses and public services who struggle to find skilled workers or even unskilled workers prepared to do the work that others’ may not want to do or cannot do. Even Australia has compared itself to having a ‘third-world’ population growth due to a hugely over ambitious approach to migration. New Zealand has also declared that it is reaching breaking point and that it must reduce its net migrations numbers dramatically. The enforcement of strict guidelines on who can and cannot come into their country seems to be a starting point for most countries as they recognise stopping the movement of people will add to the already problematic position we all now find ourselves in.
So, for businesses where does that leave them? Where does any business, large or small, look when it needs skilled workers that are not readily available through its own people? What can governments do to ensure its country continues to prosper by allowing the controlled and much needed access of migrant workers? Where will the line be drawn and what will the cost be to any business wanting to employ a migrant worker in both time and money?