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Is Employer Sponsorship a Good Way to Manage Labour Migration? Implications for Post-Brexit Migration Policies

  • Madeleine Sumption (a1)


This paper examines the implications of labour migration models that rely on employer sponsorship. According to UK government proposals, long-term migration into high-skilled jobs after Brexit will require workers to be sponsored by employers, while workers in low-skilled and low-wage jobs will receive short-term work permits that do not require an employer sponsor. The paper argues that choosing employer sponsorship over worker-driven routes has three key effects: it gives the government greater ability to regulate which jobs migrants fill; it gives employers more power over their workforce; and it increases the administrative burden associated with hiring workers from overseas. This implies that in high-skilled jobs, employer sponsorship is likely to improve the skill composition of labour migrants but reduce the total number of skilled workers admitted; and that in low-skilled positions the government faces a trade-off between the ability to channel workers to specific jobs (including those where employers struggle to attract workers) and the risk of increasing underpayment or exploitation.


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An earlier version of this paper was produced as a Migration Observatory report, funded by Trust for London and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Thanks to Martin Ruhs, Joe Owen, Carlos Vargas Silva, Jonathan Portes and Sarah Kyambi for comments on earlier versions of this paper.



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Is Employer Sponsorship a Good Way to Manage Labour Migration? Implications for Post-Brexit Migration Policies

  • Madeleine Sumption (a1)


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