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In 2012, a Teressa May government was under pressure to cut net migration and one of their methods was to target international students in the UK. All graduates from overseas were given just four months to find a job in the UK post graduation, what some would describe as difficult to say the least.

Since then, Boris Johnson’s government has made plans to reverse that rule and significantly extend the time allotted for international students to find work. All international students are now to be given up to two years to find a job after they graduate. If they secure a position they can stay in the UK, but if not, they will be asked to leave. The rule change is due to apply to all graduates in 2020, which affect thousands of UK students from around the globe.

How Will the Change Will Affect the Job Market?

The rule change may cause an increase in competition for jobs in Glasgow and other student cities across the UK. This is because the two-year visa extension does not require students to earn a job in their chosen field but includes an any-job-counts approach. The graduate can secure a position as a doctor, tech engineer, wind-farm consultant, or a bartender.

This is what Migration Watch UK has called a backdoor into the country as students can quickly get any type of work and be on the ladder for permanent residency. They argue that more people will be employed in low-skilled work if they cannot find work in their professional field, and this leads to a more competitive job market for those UK residents without a degree.

It is predicted that job markets will specifically become more competitive for high-skilled and low-skilled work in cities with larger student populations. If most international students have settled in one city, some may be reluctant to move away and will continue to look for jobs in student epicentres, such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Leeds, London and so on.

The Counter Argument

The reason the Home Office has planned these changes is because Boris Johnson wants to take the stress away from net migration figures and concentrate on improving the skills and talent of the UK job market to create a more valuable economy. The idea is to keep the individuals that the UK has trained, educated and invested in and include them in a system to make the UK a better place to live.

On the whole, evidence suggests that immigration has a significant positive impact on the UK economy and accounts for £26 billion in contributions. The argument whether the change will lead to more high-skilled workers is debatable, but the argument that the change will lead to more competition for jobs is hard to refute.