The turmoil and tumult of the past couple of weeks have led me to the deeper realisation that in the majority of cases immigration has much to offer this country and indeed has brought great benefits over many years. We are beginning to understand slowly that we need willing hands to assist in so many areas of the economy and pre-Brexit concerns are apparently slowing the flow of people wanting to come here to work.
I heard an economist saying recently that in order to continue to maintain the growth in GDP we will need at least 160,00 more people to be employed and most of that will have to come from immigration. Significantly there seems to be the start of a slowdown.
It brought to mind the experiences of my grandfather who, in the 1870s, was sent by his parents to England from Poland, at the age of 15, to escape the prevailing persecution.
Unescorted and unable to speak English, he travelled by horse and cart, train and eventually a ship, with a label attached to his coat bearing an address in Manchester where some relations lived having come to England a few years before.
Miraculously he arrived safely, survived and made a new life in this country which he adored. When I knew him he was a voracious reader, had taught himself English as well as Hebrew, Latin and Greek and was making a somewhat tenuous living as a tailor.
In all his 80-odd years he paid his taxes, never asked the state for anything and, indeed, never expected anything. He was an intensely fulfilled individual who had survived through his own efforts and had made a happy life in this country having married and raised a family of five children.
A recent broadcast by a “community” leader complained that the state was not helping them and that they needed more assistance. My grandfather would have been totally bemused by this; what can the state do to help people if they don’t make an effort to help themselves first? Unquestionably there will always be a proportion of the population that through disability or sickness need assistance and it is right that the state is always there as a helping backstop.
If we consider the situation in business, much the same criteria apply. To employ people who spend their time whingeing and moaning, constantly complaining and in “something needs to be done about it” mode, is depressing and corrosive for other members of the team.
We need to give our people the freedom to express themselves, to encourage initiative and decision making and to ensure that if anything goes awry, then it is looked upon as a learning challenge not a case for reprimand.
We need to get away from the “it’s my right” syndrome and encourage the “it’s my responsibility” attitude.
That way we can start to make headway into a new positive post- Brexit start for the country and for business in general.
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