Immigration constitutes as much of a risk for European business as it does an opportunity

Immigration constitutes as much of a risk for European business as it does an opportunity, Julián Aguilar García, a lawyer with LegalSur in Spain, explained ahead of his workshop presentation tomorrow at the FERMA conference.

While immigration means a very numerous and willing work force in some fields that Europeans are no longer prepared to work in, García said immigrant workers add complexity to the employment relationship.

‘If we talk about Spain,’ he said, ‘we should mention agriculture, construction, domestic tasks, etc. Many companies in these sectors would find it extremely difficult and/or expensive to hire European employees. On the other hand, having immigrants working within your company means becoming “multicultural” and that can be both positive and extremely difficult. It can create tensions with your current national workers who can see their jobs threatened by the newcomers who are usually cheaper and younger.’

García suggests that firms should prepare to do things differently: ‘What risk managers can no longer do is ignore the issue. Immigration can be an advantage for certain companies, depending on the business. But if not adequately dealt with, immigration can be a problem or, at least, the company could miss the business opportunity.’

‘Risk managers should probably study past experiences in countries with longer and deeper immigration experience, such as the US,’ he advised.

García believes there are certain issues that make Spain unique, due to its geographical location as a gateway to Europe, strong cultural links with Latin America and more flexible legislation.

At the workshop on Tuesday he plans to give general data regarding the legal requirements for immigration as well as an idea of the volume and implications on demography, public security and the EU economy.