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Determinants of the composition of the labour force in low skilled sectors of the UK economy

This project provided evidence on the factors that affect the supply of labour to low skilled sectors and developed further understanding of how different groups of people access work. The research added to the existing evidence base, providing more targeted information on the processes which result in the employment of particular groups in particular sectors of the economy.

Two sectors of the economy that have a high proportion of low skilled jobs: ‘construction’ and ‘accommodation and food services’ (hotels, restaurants and catering) were selected as the focus of attention. The research focused on local employment opportunities for lower-skilled workers in the West Midlands. The research comprised a literature review and synthesis of the findings. It involved interviews with:

  • Employers
  • Employees
  • Job seekers
  • Recruitment Agencies
  • Other interested parties


The focus of this report is to provide an overview of the use of migrant labour in low-skilled sectors relative to other sectors of the economy. The study builds on and expands the existing evidence base through quantitative analysis, and looks at the composition of the low-skilled workforce over time, a comparison of the different groups employed, and the characteristics of low-skilled sectors.

Green, A., Atfield, G., Adam, D. and Staniewicz, T. (2013). Determinants of the Composition of the Workforce in Low Skilled Sectors of the UK Economy, Lot 2: Qualitative Research – Final Report. Report for Migration Advisory Committee (MAC). London: UK Borders Agency, Home Office.

Project Team:

 Anne Green
Duncan Adam
Gaby Atfield

Teresa Staniewicz (Sociology)

Project Duration:

January - April 2013

Project Sponsor: