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Johnson threatens the future of au pairs

Jon Ander Sánchez went from ‘au pair’ last year to the United Kingdom to improve his English. He stayed at a family home in London, took care of his three children and three days a week he went to an academy. «He made the work of ‘au pair’ compatible with another job as a waiter in an Italian restaurant. In total, I earned about 1,430 euros a month, ”he calculates. Like Jon Ander, hundreds of Spaniards travel to the United Kingdom every year in search of work and to improve their level of English, a migratory flow that Brexit has left in the air.

Boris Johnson’s government presented its point immigration plan. This is a proposal of what would be its future relationship with the European Union once the transitional period ends and Brexit becomes effective, in 2021. From that date and according to the plan of the British Executive, it will only admit in its territory to qualified immigrants who arrive in the country with a contract whose salary exceeds 30,800 euros a year.

“Immigration was one of the star themes in the campaign in favor of Brexit and this plan is the culmination of its main argument to leave the EU,” explains Joserramón Bengoetxea, professor of European Law at the University of the Basque Country (UPV / EHU). This point migration control aims to stop low-skilled workers. «The United Kingdom is one of the preferred destinations for workers in the service sector: catering, hospitality, waiters … From 2021, its entry will depend on domestic demand». That is, if the English do not want to carry out these works they should look for people who do want to perform them.

Great labor demand

The case of the ‘au pair’ is somewhat special. “It is not a job because there is no contract as such. It is more an invitation. Maybe they are offered the opportunity to apply for a temporary residence permit, ”observes Bengoetxea. An opportunity to learn the language, which some also use as trampoline to achieve a stable job and settle in the country.

This is the case of Daniel García, a young man from Salamanca who lived with an English family in London last year and now works in a multinational that offers worldwide marketing solutions. «In just one week you can find a job as a waiter, a cleaner, looking after children … Also, when you go to a bar, a restaurant or go to the side of a work, you see that they are all foreigners. I do not believe that the immigration plan will come into force because the country’s own labor structure will not allow it, ”he argues.

The interests of the British Government collide with those of the companies, which take advantage of the cheap labor that the immigrants suppose. Whole sectors such as construction and hospitality are supported by foreigners. The president of the association of British farmers and ranchers already announced that in 2021 70,000 temporary workers will be needed in the United Kingdom, while the Government wants to grant visas to only 10,000. “The migration plan could translate into an increase in clandestine jobs, which would leave employees unprotected,” says Bengoetxea.

As for qualified workers – doctors, nurses, researchers – their entrance is, for the moment, assured. Moreover, the Spaniards who work for the British Health Service warn that the system would collapse without health personnel from the EU. According to a report by The Health Foundation, the United Kingdom needed to fill 100,000 vacancies in early 2019, from doctors to nursing assistants. “If they want native qualified professionals, they should be trained,” says the expert; and that can hardly be achieved before 2021.


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