Yash Dubal, Director of A Y & J Solicitors discusses his career and growth in the UK and shares his perspective on how the migrants play a role in rebuilding the economy post lockdown.
As the economy struggles under the strain of a partially lifted lockdown, and as politicians try to navigate a way back to some form of normality, one thing is certain: migrants will play a crucial role in the rebuilding process. We always do.
The UK offers so much for us, and we offer so much in return. Many come from poor backgrounds and from parts of the world where opportunities are limited. We drive innovation and economic development.
My story is typical of the migrant’s journey.
I grew up in India, in a small, remote village in the state of Gujarat. My father died when I was 17, so my mother worked to support me and my two younger siblings. To me, it was normal, but with the benefit of hindsight, it was an incredibly hard life. We were poor and lived in a one bedroom apartment.
I will always remember the shame of poverty. We wore clothes with holes in them to school. On visits to my uncle to give my mother a break, we only had two sets of clothes, one of which was our school uniform. I recall missing out on a school trip once because I did not have the equivalent of 10p to pay for it.
Standard school notebooks were 1p, but we could not afford these and used cheaper ones in which the ink leaked through the pages. We could not afford school bags and I used a handmade vegetable carrier instead.
Many migrants in the UK will recognise these circumstances. This is normal in many parts of the world. I don’t know how different my life would have been had I come from a wealthy family.
My best guess is that I would not have been as motivated as I am today. I take nothing for granted. I am not proud of my poor childhood, but I am lucky to have had it. Without it I would not have had the drive to build the business I have, which in turn has benefitted the UK.
Until you’ve experienced poverty, it’s hard to understand how much it can influence an individual’s drive to succeed. I was determined to create a better life for myself and my family, no matter what. This mindset is shared by so many migrants from similar backgrounds.
After completing my Computer Engineering degree in India in 2002 I could have taken a job paying a modest salary. But I wanted more. A friend had left for the UK and my family encouraged me to go too. A cousin lent me £1,500 for the visa fees.
I arrived in May 2003, on my own with no contacts and no support. Within 15 days I started working as a cashier in Smithfield’s market and found a place to live in East London. I saved £50 to send to my mother so she could buy the first fridge she’d ever owned.
I worked hard, at times seven days a week for 18 hours a day, with no holidays. I worked as a shop keeper and a security guard, and also ran a small college in London. I started helping friends with immigration advice on their college admissions, from which I earned small commissions.
In September 2008, at the start of the financial crisis, I set up an immigration law firm from a corner of my bedroom in a rented property in Hounslow with an investment of £30 for two chairs and a table from IKEA.
My reputation spread and by 2013 we moved to offices in Chancery Lane, central London. Today the company has an annual turnover of just under £900,000 and we employ several staff.
My success story is far from unusual though. Nearly all my friends from similar humble backgrounds are now very well-paid professionals who pay handsome amounts of tax. They are successful entrepreneurs and law-abiding citizens. Some of them have created many jobs in the UK.
There’s also a huge number of migrants, or children of migrants, working in the NHS. They work hard, pay taxes and are valuable citizens. They came to the UK for a better life. Their economic contribution is welcomed but, like most overseas workers, they have not always felt welcomed as people.
Even so, given that people from ethnic minority background make up 72 per cent of all NHS and carer deaths from coronavirus, they still made the ultimate sacrifice for the country they called home.
Globally, the World Bank estimates that increasing migration would equal to a three per cent rise in the workforce of developed countries by 2025 and will generate $356 billion in global gains. Today, more than 40 per cent of companies on the U.S. Fortune 500 list were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants, including Apple and Google.
This is the power migrants possess, and the economic punch that will help kickstart the economy after lockdown.
Migrants bring competitiveness, resilience and innovation to the economy. Some of them also bring direct investment. In the months to come, the UK will once again rely on them to help it recover after these difficult times. They should be welcomed, not shunned.
Click here to read the article on the Metro.