The number of Zimbabweans departing for care and support jobs in the United Kingdom saw a remarkable increase of 562 percent, with over 17,000 individuals leaving last year.
However, this escape option may face obstacles as the Tory administration confronts significant political backlash over net migration.
A recently released government report from last Thursday revealed a record net migration of 606,000 for 2022, representing a 24% rise compared to the previous year. Zimbabwe ranked third, following India and Nigeria, in terms of work visas granted in the health and social care sector.
The data disclosed that 17,421 Zimbabweans migrated to the UK in the past year, a staggering surge of 562% from the 2,630 recorded in the previous year.
The exodus can be attributed to the ongoing economic crisis in Zimbabwe, which has persisted for two decades, with only a brief respite during the coalition administration.
The health sector has been severely affected, with reports stating that approximately 4,000 doctors and nurses have left the country since 2001.
Furthermore, the inclusion of “care workers” and “home carers” on the UK’s shortage occupation list for skilled workers, driven by Brexit, has resulted in thousands more Zimbabweans seeking opportunities abroad.
Even pastors are enrolling in seven-week first-aid courses run by organizations such as the Red Cross to facilitate their transition into care work overseas.
Evangelical pastor Tinaye Tangwena, now based in Watford, expressed his motivation for leaving his congregation, stating, “We can’t dance in front of the pulpit and hide our poverty.”
Another Baptist pastor, Silas Gatsheni, who now works at a nursing home in Liverpool, affirmed his decision to switch careers, saying, “I’m not shy to quit being a pastor, immigrate, and become an elderly care worker in the UK.”
However, the path for Zimbabweans and other nationalities seeking similar opportunities may become narrower in the future.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government faces substantial opposition from both Tory MPs and the opposition due to the surge in migration numbers.
Concerns about “unsustainable” levels of net migration and the impact on voters have been raised by Conservative legislators.
Yvette Cooper, Labour’s shadow home secretary, intensified the pressure by stating, “The Conservatives’ chaotic approach means that work visas are up 119%, net migration is more than twice the level ministers were aiming for, and the asylum backlog is at a record high despite Sunak promising to clear it this year.”
Responding to the concerns, Prime Minister Sunak acknowledged the need to address the high numbers, asserting, “Numbers are too high, it’s as simple as that. And I want to bring them down.”
Balancing voter expectations, particularly those who supported Brexit in the 2016 referendum in hopes of reducing immigration, and tackling labor shortages in critical sectors like agriculture and healthcare due to the departure of Europeans after Brexit poses a challenging task for the Tory PM.
Immigration policy is anticipated to be a crucial issue for voters in the upcoming elections expected next year.