UK’s points-based migration system is a loss for Nigeria

… as opportunity opens door for Nigeria’s increasing brain drain … scientists, medical practitioners, academics top list of UK needed workers

While Britain’s new points-based migration system that kicked off January 1, 2021, is geared towards developing the UK’s economy, it is a loss for Nigeria, a country already suffering from brain drain.

The UK’s new points-based migration system joins the already existing similar policy scheme in Canada and is expected to deepen the number of skilled labour leaving Nigeria through the opportunity.

According to economists, absence or gross inadequacy of pre-requisite manpower considerably retards the socio-economic and technological growth and development of a nation. This is because her capacity to develop her intellectual resources further, manage her institutions and provide required services to her citizens is seriously impaired.

“Nigeria is going to lose some bright minds to this UK migration system, and considering the kind of requirement to qualify, it shows the very highly skilled will be leaving through the system,” a Lagos-based analyst said on the condition of anonymity.

Taking control of immigration and putting an end to a reliance on “cheap labour from Europe,” the UK plans to strengthen its economy through migration of highly skilled workers into the country’s sectors with a shortage of labour.

Through the new post-Brexit, points-based immigration system the government said, it intends to create a high wage, high-skill, and high productivity economy.

“We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe, and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation,” the government said in a policy document setting out its plans.

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With the new migration system, the UK Home Office explained that EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally to reduce overall levels of migration and give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents.

Shortage occupation list that is a top priority for the points-based migration system includes; scientists, engineers, academics and other highly-skilled workers.

“This new migration system holds a huge opportunity for a lot of Nigerians who are more than qualified for some of the skilled positions that has been highlighted in the document,” a Lagos-based education consultant said.

A total of 70 points is required to be eligible to apply for the Canadian-style points-based immigration system.

Advising Nigerians to tap from the opportunity, Dipo Awojide, a Nigerian UK-based senior lecturer in Strategy, Nottingham Business School, said they should “fix” their “CV, CL and LinkedIn Profile.”

“Take the IELTS & secure high point, look through the UK occupation shortage list, search for jobs related to the above on LinkedIn/job sites & apply,” Awojide said.

With a six-year-high unemployment rate at 27.1 percent in Q2 2020 and weak earning capacity of many of the fortunately employed population, a lot of Nigerians believe more opportunities exist outside the shores of Nigeria.
“This is unfortunate but true. You will see a skilled worker in Nigeria who is barely able to sustain himself sending thousands of dollars home once he manages to travel abroad,” an Abuja-based career consultant said.

Many people in Nigeria have considered leaving the country. Nearly half (45%) of adults say they plan to move to another country within five years, by far the highest share among 12 countries surveyed across four continents, according to a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in 2018.

Economists see Nigeria’s huge population as its best resource, but they also believe if the country is not able to engage and keep its best minds, they will leave and help out countries with a more enabling environment to develop their country.

Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world, with 206 million people. By 2100, it is projected to be the world’s third most populous country – ahead of the US – with 733 million people, according to United Nations estimates.

But, for the fifth year in a row, more Nigerians immigrated to Canada than the year before as data published by the Canadian government show the number of Nigerians issued permanent resident permits has tripled since 2015. It is a growth rate that outstrips some of Canada’s biggest sources of immigrants over the last five years, including India, China and the Philippines.

The North American country is not the only destination attracting Nigeria’s best minds. According to 2017 data from the Migration Policy Institute, more than half of Nigerian immigrants (54%) were most likely to occupy management positions in the US, compared with 32 percent of the total foreign-born population and 39 percent of the US-born population.

Similar Nigerian success is reflected in the UK, where many in a highly-educated diaspora work in financial services, IT, and the legal and medical professions.

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