A greater proportion of foreign nationals get degrees and top jobs than native Britons, according figures released by the Office for National Statistics. The data also reveal that nearly 90 per cent of foreign nationals living in the UK speak English very well.
The figures, which come from the 2011 census, dispel many of the stereotypes that exist about the prevalence of unskilled immigrants. The release of the statistics comes after a recent OECD analysis which said that immigrants put more into the public purses of Western nations than they take out.
The OECD report said: “According to recent opinion polls, about 50 per cent of citizens in European countries and in Canada believe that immigrants contribute less in taxes than they receive… are a big burden on the public purse. [But] migration represents neither a significant gain nor drain for the public purse.”
According to the ONS, 21 per cent of foreign nationals were employed in banking, finance and insurance, compared with 17 per cent of UK nationals. They also showed that 38 per cent of foreign nationals gained qualifications at degree standard or higher, compared with 29 per cent of UK nationals.
The report added: “UK nationals were more concentrated in the public administration, education and health sector [29 per cent]), compared with foreign nationals [23 per cent].”
The ONS also reported findings that “3.6 million foreign nationals aged 3 and over said they could speak English well, very well or as their main language; 1.7 per cent (70,000) of foreign nationals reported that they could not speak English at all”. This latest round of ONS figures suggested that a high proportion of immigrants contributed heavily to British society and the country’s economy.
Many were found to be in the UK to study, with the proportion among foreign nationals “more than double that of UK nationals: 17 per cent compared with 8.1 per cent”. The difference, the report said, “is partly related to the younger age structure of the foreign national population”.
The report also showed that “the majority of both UK and foreign nationals aged 16 and over were economically active [64 per cent and 65 per cent respectively] and in employment [61 and 60 per cent respectively]”.
It added: “For those in employment, foreign nationals were most concentrated in professional [20 per cent] and elementary occupations [19 per cent] while UK nationals were most concentrated in professional [18 per cent] and associate professional and technical occupations [13 per cent]”.
The ONS analysed economic and social characteristics of long-term migrants when the census was taken in March 2011.
Earlier this month, anti-immigration campaigners were angered by Migrationwatch claims that immigration figures have been undercounted. The group said that the number of “EU immigrants has been undercounted by half a million over a 10-year period”. It claimed on Thursday that the revised numbers would mean around four million extra migrants in Britain.