In light of June´s referendum decision, the UK has decided to leave Europe. This is a decision which I did not foresee. Although the ´leave EU´ campaign put forward a strong case, I think ultimately British people will have based the decision on their own personal feelings. These feelings will most likely have been influenced by two topics, immigration and the British economy. Brexit might encourage more people to take IELTS and other English examinations. Brexit will probably restrict freedom of movement into Great Britain and put pressure on people currently residing in the UK to reaffirm their status.
There has certainly been a noticeable increase in the number of Europeans in my own city of Peterborough. The 2011 census showed that 40% of the population were from ethnic minorities. It is likely to be higher than this though, particularly as immigration has continued at a fast pace in the five years since. Having spoken to many British people, it is clear that most are happy with people moving to the UK if they are looking for work. However, there are some who feel that this prevents British people from getting certain jobs and that increasing migration also increases the strain on already overwrought public services, for example health care. People who move to the UK to claim benefits from the government and use public services without paying taxes, or even trying to get a job are looked upon unfavourably.
My Experience Teaching English as a foreign language In England
As an English language teacher working in England, I interact with people of all different nationalities, particularly Europeans. Most of my students have jobs or come to the country with some money, but I also get first-hand experience of those people who come from poorer economic circumstances and who are yet to find jobs in the UK. Many students join my classes because they want to pass exams, gain proof of their language abilities and generally improve their English to stand a better chance of getting the type of jobs they desire. Most of these students have high ambitions and perhaps it is this willingness and dedication to learning and improving their economic and social standing, which helps them to be successful in finding at least some sort of job fairly quickly.
UK Job Opportunities
Many of my European students have often studied at universities in their home countries, but due to a number of larger, underlying problems, they are often unable to find jobs once they have qualified. The UK appears to offer more job opportunities and a more secure economy for many. For these reasons it appeals to trained and qualified people in search of jobs which are not available in their home countries. The UK can potentially offer these people a better quality of life.
I have seen numerous people arrive in the UK and find some sort of job fairly quickly, even those who have a very low level of English. Nevertheless, from my experience, I have found that until they have lived in the UK for a while and have gained a reasonable command of the English language, many students struggle to find a job suited to their background and qualifications.
Most of the time students will just get any job they can upon first arrival and from here, they progress and move into bigger and better jobs. Many of these students do not want to move to the UK long term, but rather want to get on the job ladder, start to move forwards along their career path and then return to their own country where more higher paid and higher level jobs seem to exist. While this may be the case, the majority of these students are happy to contribute to the UK economy, pay taxes etc. and are often very happy to have been given any job opportunity at all.
NHS work, particularly hospital and nursing staff, seems to be the most popular job that my students come to the UK in search of. The NHS certainly take on a large number of foreign workers and at the moment there is a lot of pressure and strain on this field of work due to public sector budgeting and cuts. I have taught many students who have studied nursing in their own countries, came to the UK, got a job at a nursing home for a few months and after getting their English to a semi-fluent conversational level, they subsequently apply for and often get a job as a nurse in a hospital.
Other unskilled migrants come to the UK and find jobs working in factories and other manufacturing and industrial sector work. They will often share bedrooms with other people and save all the money they can to send back to their families in their home country. Often they do not earn enough money to pay for English language courses and so I have limited experience of working with people in these types of jobs.
Questions Brits may ask themselves
Several arguments were put forward on both sides of the debate whether or not the UK should remain in the EU....but as I said earlier, in my opinion, most British people would probably have voted on their own individual feelings. I have outlined a few of the main points I think Brits may have thought about and which possibly influenced their decisions on which way to vote in the referendum:
Do I interact with people from other countries on a social or more formal level?
Do they speak English fluently?
Are they able to have a coherent conversation with me?
Has my interaction with non-native English speakers been generally positive?
Do foreign people that I know or see in the UK seem to make an effort to integrate with British culture, people and values?
Is Britain losing its traditions, heritage, culture and overall appearance as a result of immigration?
Will British people still be able to easily have holidays in other European countries?
Will British people still be able to move to and live other European countries? How much more difficult will this become?
Is the economy in a worse situation because of immigration?
Is the economy fairing better due to trade in the EU?
Will the economy be worse off if we leave the EU?
Are British people unable to get jobs because foreign workers are taking them instead?
Are people coming to this country, taking money from the British economy and sending it overseas?
When considering these questions, one person may give completely different answers to another. Whatever the answers to these questions may be, today’s result would seem to suggest that more British people are in favour of leaving the EU than staying in it.