Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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22/2/20: I thought we'd stopped being a colonial power?

Before Christmas I wrote this blog post in which I expressed concern about the policy of enticing professionals to this country.  Well, the issue has reappeared in the news this week, as reported on the front page of 'The Times' on Wednesday 19/2/20 with the headline 'Low-skilled immigrants to be barred'.  While, as commented on previously, we will be allowing, indeed, encouraging, highly skilled professionals to come to this country, we will be barring those with low-skills.

From so many points of view the logic here defeats me.  Many people come from other countries to here to take on what are, from the UK perspective, low paid jobs in the care, hospitality, agriculture sectors to name but a few.  In principle this has at least the potential to be a win-win-win scenario.  Individuals are able to earn more than they would otherwise and send that money back to their families.  The UK benefits from people prepared to work in low paid jobs which are difficult, if not impossible, to fill internally.  There is no loss of expensive training courses to the home countries with the potential - and I am not in a position to say how often this is fulfilled - to run training courses so that people can return to their home countries better qualified than they arrived here.

It is a nonsense to suppose that more than a small fraction of these jobs can be filled by those currently economically inactive.  But perhaps my biggest beef here is the impact on the sending countries.

We in the UK have, over the centuries, an appalling track record of travelling the world, subjugating - and worse - the locals, taking what we want, in the arrogant belief that we know best.  How different are things now to colonial times?  As reported in this news story David Cameron as prime minister tried to make aid to Uganda conditional upon their changing the law on homosexuality.  I do not wish to comment on the underlying issue, but on the use of economic power to attempt to impose a worldview on others - which, after all, has been adopted in this country quite recently, certainly within living memory.  I can only agree with the presidential adviser who referred to this as a 'bullying mentality'.

It seems to me that taking highly skilled professionals from other countries, whilst barring low-skilled workers, is more of the same.  We continue to take what we want without regard for the needs and rights of those from whom we take.  From the UK's point of view there are both short and long term problems to solve in terms of our ability from internal resources to produce enough workers across the skill range.  As we attempt to solve these problems let's do so with not only our own interests in mind but those of the sending countries and work towards solutions, both short and long term, that work towards the interests of everybody involved, not just our own.

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22/2/20: I thought we'd stopped being a colonial power?
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