It is estimated that there are around 3.3 million EU nationals living in the UK. The latest figures show that the UK's immigrant population is one of the most diverse in the world when it comes to country of origin. Among this population there is a large and growing Spanish community. According to a recent report, there was a 13% increase between 2016 and 2017 of Spaniards residing in the UK, bringing the total figure up to over 102,000. This is a 100% increase from 2009, where it stood at 57,770.
Despite concerns from some people in Britain over the high levels of immigration, Spanish citizens, as well as other EU nationals, have contributed massively to the British economy and society and continue to do so. One of the main benefits is the age of those migrating. While a large number of British expats moving to Spain are pensioners, with around half being retired and only 29% being under 50, a higher proportion of Spaniards moving to the UK are from the younger age groups.
High levels of Spanish unemployment, combined with a rise in the number of jobs in Britain, has fuelled the demand for young workers to take up employment. Most of the new jobs being created in the UK are being taken by migrant workers, and many companies have warned that the British economy could suffer from the lack of workers after Brexit. Many young Spaniards are choosing to move to the UK and work hard thanks to the job opportunities that it provides. As well as working, around 10,000 young people from Spain choose to study in UK universities.
Of the Spanish citizens who are currently working in the UK, 78% are working in the health, education and public administration sectors. Many others work in banking, finance, hotels and restaurants across the country. One of the biggest contributions Spanish migrants are making to Britain is education. Over half of all migrants work in the education sector. Across the UK there is a high demand for teachers, especially in London.
For many years, London has seen a young, thriving Spanish community, who have contributed towards both the economy, and culture in the capital. 'Spanish London' allows communities to enjoy parts of Spanish culture, including an array of tapas bars, shops selling Spanish products and food as well as well known Spanish high street brands. Portabello Road is known for Spanish delis and tapas restaurants, as is the West End of London. The city is also home to the Instituto Espanol Vicente Canada Blanch ('Vicente Canada Blanch Spanish School'), which is based in Kensington and is owned by the Spanish government.
Spanish migrants have made a substantial contribution to the British economy and to society, but with Brexit looming, there are concerns over the effect the lack of migrants could have in the future. As EU workers continue to leave the UK, many businesses have warned that they are already suffering from the lack of workers, especially in the hospitality industry. With high numbers of young people moving to the UK to work in bars, restaurants and hotels, these types of businesses could really suffer in the long term. There have also been warnings from other industries like the NHS, who rely heavily on migrant workers to fill jobs. Although those already in the UK have been guaranteed the right to remain, in the long term, there are fears that Brexit could be damaging to the UK in the long term.
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