Small Firms will “struggle to recruit after skilled migrants cap”

Business groups have criticised the Government’s plans to cap the number of skilled migrant workers from outside the EU entering the UK, warning that it will make it harder for employers to find the recruits they need.

From 16 July, the Home Office is capping the number of skilled non-EU workers with a job offer from entering the UK at 18,700 for the period up to April 2011 — this is likely to reduce the number entering the country by a predicted 1,300. The coalition is also limiting the number of skilled people entering the country without a job offer to 5,400 and raising their pass mark under the points-based system by five points.

In addition, the Government has launched a 12-week consultation to determine a permanent limit on skilled non-EU workers entering the UK. Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) head of public affairs, Stephen Alambritis, said that some employers would struggle to find suitable candidates without a wide selection of skilled migrants.

“We are opposed to this cap, as it could stop small employers from finding the best person for the job. Small firms in a lot of sectors — particularly catering, finance, IT and care — rely heavily on skilled migrants and this will damage their ability to take on suitable staff and grow.”

British Chambers of Commerce director general, David Frost, agreed:

“It’s essential that British businesses that require highly skilled workers are able to meet their recruitment needs.”

“If restrictions on the entry of highly skilled non-EU migrants are too strict, there could be damage to the economy and to future economic growth,” he added. “It’s absolutely essential to get the balance right.”

According to the Home Office, the move is part of the coalition’s plans to reduce net immigration to the levels of the 1990s. Next year’s cap is expected to reduce net immigration from 176,000 a year to “tens of thousands”.

“I recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited migration places unacceptable pressure on public services.”

said Home Secretary, Theresa May.

“However, alongside the migration limits the Government will take action to get Britain back to work and provide businesses with the skills they need from the resident workforce.”

Currently, skilled workers from outside the EU are granted work visas based on a points-based system, which takes into account factors such as their level of English, their qualifications and their experience. Until now, there has been no limit on the number of work visas granted.

To contribute to the consultation, visit the Consultation by the Migration Advisory Committee on the level of an annual limit on economic migration to the UK.

To download a guide for employers on preventing illegal working, see the Prevention of Illegal Working (Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006) PDF

Small Firms will struggle to recruit after skilled migrants cap

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