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Facing Facts: the impact of migrants on London, its workforce and economy

First of its kind analysis of the role migration plays on London’s economy draws on a comprehensive range of information, including detailed ONS Labour Force Survey data.

Key findings

The collaborative report by London First and PwC, shows how London’s workforce has grown from 4.3 million people in 2005 to just under 5.2 million, over the past 10 years, made up of people from around the UK, the EU and the rest of the world.
  • 3.2m of London’s workforce were born in the UK (most of London’s workforce at just over 60%)

  • 682,300 workers were born in the EU (13% of London’s total workforce). This has more than doubled over the past 10 years, from 326,700

  • 1.3m workers were born elsewhere in the world in 2015 (25% of London’s total workforce), up from one million in 2005

Economic growth for the capital

London’s growing workforce is significantly contributing to economic growth and helping to create more jobs in the capital.

The analysis calculates that the economic value generated by London’s 1.8m migrant workers is £83bn per year, roughly 22% of the capital’s Gross Value Added (GVA). The additional GVA generated by 10 jobs from migrant workers will support an additional 4 jobs in the wider UK economy.

London’s construction industry

Builders, developers, contractors and engineers employ nearly 300,000 people in London, around half of whom were born in the UK, 30% were born in the EU and 20% were born in the rest of the world. Demand for construction workers looks set to grow as London builds more homes and completes Crossrail, the extension of the Northern Line and the Tideway Tunnel alongside other infrastructure projects.

But London is struggling to attract and train the workforce its infrastructure projects need. Today, London and the South East have a shortfall of 60,000 people in the construction industry. Apprenticeships are trying to address the shortfall, with a 43% increase in the number of construction apprenticeships nationally since 2012 (from 14,000 to 20,000). But the number of apprenticeships successfully completed in inner London has fallen by 32% over the past few year (730 in 2011/12, compared to 500 in 2013/14).  

Looking at London’s boroughs

Overall, one in three Londoners were born overseas (37%), an increase from 31% in 2005. But the migration picture varies across London’s boroughs. For example, Kensington and Chelsea has a relatively high proportion of migrants but has seen little change over the past ten years (49.5% of residents in 2015 were born overseas, compared with 49.1% in 2005). In comparison, Harrow’s migrant population has increased from nearly 33% in 2005 to just under 50% in 2015.

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Sharan Kundi

Sharan Kundi

Partner, PwC United Kingdom

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