Calls to guarantee post-Brexit residency for EU and British nationals #SharedEuropeanFuture

Brexit is showing more twists and turns than the average Shyamalan film.

While the wrangling and posturing continue, concerns remain over the EU nationals working in the UK and the “Brexpats”, the British nationals based in other EU countries. This is understandably causing anxiety and frustration.

But these are early days in the grand scheme of things, and we have the power to shape Brexit – hard, soft or bendy. As such, there are growing calls to ensure that the rights of residents are recognised.

the3million, a movement started in Bristol to preserve the rights of EU and British citizens alike after Brexit, published a new research report in July to promote reform and help allow EU citizens in the UK to continue to live normally post-Brexit.

The report shows how the “permanent residence” application process creates barriers for EU citizens to claim residence rights after Brexit.

Also in July, the British Council – an organisation with considerably more clout – addressed a set of eminently sensible recommendations to UK and EU leaders, Our Shared European Future. Among the recommendations was a call to guarantee post-Brexit residency rights for both British and EU citizens.

Other recommendations included:

  • A post-Brexit agreement for education, culture, science and research to facilitate movement
  • Cultural and educational permits to allow people to move with ease between the UK and EU countries
  • Guarantees that UK institutions and individuals remain eligible to access programmes such as Erasmus+, Horizon 2020, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions and Creative Europe
  • The preservation of opportunities to work and study abroad
  • Proactive engagement of youth in Brexit decision-making

The British Council’s recommendations are endorsed by more than 450 institutions across Europe, including the British Museum, Tate and V&A in London; the Creative Industries Federation; the National Gallery Prague; and CERN (it was CERN that led to the creation of Sir Tim Berners Lee’s World Wide Web, with the rest being history as they say).

Individuals in support comprise leading scientists and artists, including that man off the telly: Professor Brian Cox, Sir David Chipperfield, Mark Wallinger, Claudie Haigneré and Professor Iain Stewart.

And you can endorse these too, of course, by signing the British Council petition here.

It’s absolutely vital – and common sense – that EU residents in Britain and British nationals in Europe are heard and accounted for,  fairly and with respect.

Young Brits encouraged to acquire China work experience

Great Wall of China

Big advertising boss Sir Martin Sorrell, founder and CEO of WPP, has posted a rousing article on LinkedIn, To Move Upward, Move Outward, about the importance of acquiring overseas work experience, China specifically, explaining that:

In a world becoming smaller every day through globalisation and digital connectivity, we need people who can demonstrate they have what it takes to succeed in this environment. Increasingly, employers are looking for knowledge of markets beyond the West, an international outlook and the willingness to be mobile.

Sir Martin was writing as a “Leading Light”, or influential figure who has benefited from China, championing the British Council’s Generation UK: China Network, which recently celebrated its first birthday. The initiative aims to connect all UK nationals with China experience so that they continue and deepen their engagement with China. Specifically, it supports student employability and skills development, and provides a platform for Brits to further their business, academic and entrepreneurial connections to China.

As part of the campaign, the British Council will be hosting an event this Thursday on opportunities to study, work, teach or complete research in China. If you are flirting with the idea of moving to the Middle Kingdom, head on down to the British Council’s London HQ on 13 October. The two-hour event will start at 11am (full details and registration here). Who knows where a stint in this extraordinary country might take you?

British nationals with China experience already, meanwhile, can apply to join the Generation UK: China Network on LinkedIn, now numbering almost 2,500 members, to connect with other China alumni. Joining the network also provides access to high-profile speaker events, Alumni Awards and career opportunities. Sounds hen hao to me!

Tragedy of Millennials? International opportunities can transform lives

Wingtip - image credit: Ralf Roletschek

In a thought-provoking piece for the FT, Sarah O’Connor described how Millennials are too insecure to push for a raise. She suggests, by way of example, that two decades of uncertainty in Japan has instilled fearfulness and risk-aversion in the nation’s youth. O’Connor adds that many young people have bent over backwards to persuade anyone to give them a foothold:

In the US, the proportion of college graduates working in non-graduate jobs rose to 44 per cent after the recession.

In the eurozone, about 40 per cent of workers aged 15 to 29 are in temporary jobs that typically provide little training or progression.

But can the same be said of workers with international experience? An excellent report by the British Council (disclosure: I used to work for them, but I had no involvement with the making of this report) called A World of Experience reveals, among other stats:

  • 85 percent of those studying or working abroad for 3 months or more, or travelling for more than 6 months, described themselves as confident in their ability to meet new challenges
  • 82 percent of individuals with international experience were confident in their ability to adapt to new and unfamiliar situations
  • Respondents with international experience were also slightly more likely to describe themselves as resilient
  • Over half of those with university-level experience abroad (53 percent) reported that it helped them to get a job that interested them

Others agree. Writing for The Guardian, Felix Marquardt recognises that “young people are hurting and they are hurting on a global scale”, and warns of a generational crisis. The answer? “We need people to move.” He even suggests a global youth work visa that allows young people to work for up to two years in the country of their choice.

Finally, I can attest that grabbing opportunities abroad can be beneficial, as an expat with several years overseas experience. I’ve heard of an English-language teacher in China (teaching English can be well-paid, and there is demand) learning Mandarin, making connections and becoming a project manager. Imagine their value in the global labour market now!