UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


The hierarchies of skills: Knowledge equity and the UK’s points-based immigration system

25 March 2021, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Immigration queue

A Politics and Sociology seminar with Dr Dogus Simsek (Kingston University London)

This event is free.

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The UK’s points-based system (PBS) seeks to ensure a hierarchical classification between what is generally termed as ‘low-skilled’ migrants who fill the labour gaps in essential sectors, and ‘high-skilled’ migrants who are deemed economic migrants and pursue white-collar careers. As an outcome of this colonial logic of ranking migrants within hierarchical categories based on their skills and knowledge, the discursive othering of ‘low-skilled’ migrant workers has been applied in the UK’s points-based immigration policy. Drawing on in-depth interviews with Polish and Romanian migrant workers, the representatives of Polish and Romanian community organisations, and British citizens, this paper aims to explore whether migrants themselves create their own hierarchical categories based on what privileges or achievements they have accumulated in their ‘new’ home which might determine the form and function of their social relationships; the impact of the UK’s PBS on the knowledge dimension of British society and its perception on migrant workers; and whether the UK’s PBS reproduce racial bias. I argue that the racialisation of migrant labour points to the tendency among policy makers to divide migrants not only within a set of statuses based on their skills and knowledge, but also along racial lines. 

Registration is free but essential via Zoom