Recruiting "unemployed young Britons" over migrant workers, could shrink the talent pool, employer groups warn

David Woods , 04 Jul 2011


UK employers have been told to look to UK nationals – especially "unemployed young Britons" – to recruit, rather than relying on foreign nationals, by the work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith (pictured). But employer groups fear, this could "shrink the talent pool".

Under EU laws most EU citizens can work in the UK without restriction and the Government has introduced a cap on the number of skilled workers from outside the EU, in an effort to reduce net migration from about 200,000 a year.

Speaking on Friday, Duncan Smith said: "We have to be sure our immigration system works in favour of Britain. [The Government has] made a realistic promise to our young school leavers as part of our contract reforming welfare to make work pay and to get people back into work. We are toughening sanctions on those that will not take work.

"We need an immigration system that gives the young especially a level playing field to take the work when it is available. If we don't get this right, we risk leaving our citizens - particularly young people - out of work. That is why, in the short term, we [have to] control immigration or risk losing another generation to dependency or hopelessness.

"But as we work hard to get people ready for the labour market, business has an obligation as well."

Commenting, David Frost, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said: "Businesses in this country need to have a highly skilled workforce and for many firms that means employing migrants. Employers need staff who can read, write and communicate properly, and our young people often lack these basic skills needed for the workplace.

"Getting more young people into work in this country doesn't rely upon stemming the flow of skilled migrants coming to the UK. It's about more than just additional training to get people into work. We need to provide our young people with the right skills at school in the first place, and overhaul our welfare system so it incentivises people to move into employment.

"The government is already acting to reduce the numbers of unskilled migrants coming to this country. But highly skilled foreign workers are important to our economy, and it is vital that they are allowed to enter the country so businesses can hire the workers they need."

Gillian Econopouly, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation's head of policy, added: "What is important is that we improve not shrink the candidate pool. There are already stringent controls on migrants coming from outside the EU with only highly skilled workers granted entry.

"With the high levels of youth unemployment in this country, it is crucial that businesses and Government work together. Through the introduction of a National Insurance holiday to incentivise businesses to take on young people, we can help tackle the youth jobs crisis.

"If young people are going to be able to get a foot in the door of what is essentially a global jobs market, employers, recruiters and the Government need to work together to ensure that the focus in schools is on giving the right guidance to equip future jobseekers with the skills to succeed."


5 comments on this article

Your comment

Click here to comment talent is not to be found on British shores apparently?

John Beren 04 Jul 2011

I find the supposition that talent is mainly to be found overseas very demeaning and quite racist! Give training and opportunities to local people and you will see Talent and Enterpreneurship.... or is it that big Corporation simply want to do it in the cheap once again by importing trained and experienced labour, instead of developing it themselves?


Steve Gilham 04 Jul 2011

Is not one of the talents referred to as shrinking the ability to speak fluent English.

Recruitment: Yes but students?

Tim Edwards 04 Jul 2011

As a UKBA sponsor of students and workers, it is true many employers seek international labour.....why? I think we need to be realistic as a nation about this matter.......people who are legally here are not the issue - it is people here, and working, illegally that is the question.....a point the government has seemed to have missed. With regard to students...they are now further restricted of working and this makes it virtually impossible for them to maintain their tuition fee's, rent, food and daily living....all this detracts from our economy and makes the UK not an attractive or viable place to study....except for the privileged few and they would not work in the likes of care homes etc supporting our elderly. But our government and their policies need not worry - students will still continue to study but probably in Croatia or Hungary and that will benefit their economies.....once again the UK will shoot itself in the foot and complain afterwards.......


Stephen 05 Jul 2011

Then there might be an issue regarding the work ethic of young Britons as well comparitively speaking.How many hours per week they are willing to work at what rate of pay?


Ian Ellis 05 Jul 2011

It is very rare for me to agree with a Government Minister; however I agree that we must somehow address the growing numbers of youth unemployment. Without resolving this increasing challenge, the already stretched benefits system will have more individuals and families requiring support if not now, then in the future and who is going to fund this? Youth unemployment already costs the state £3.5m each day in Jobseekers’ Allowance. Calculation based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, Labour Market Statistics, January 2010. (Information as noted within ) We need to find a solution and in my humble opinion, we need to ensure that our young people have a route into employment and give them a positive alternative to the lifestyle that currently awaits many of this age group. My organisation is one that has within its remit, the provision of training for 16 -18 disaffected youth, those who have either been failed by our current education system or in some cases have decided that they have wasted an opportunity and wish to rectify their mistakes. Many of our young people move into college, but others just want to work hard and with no real jobs, it is becoming increasing difficult for them to contribute to our economy and become self sustaining. Is the answer the something along the lines old YTS scheme, for those of the age who remember? This offered an allowance whilst in training and has been replaced with many new schemes over the years, the latest being Foundation Learning Tier where there is little incentive for the young learner unless already within the ‘system’ to develop their knowledge and experience. There have been many variations in the past 10 years and this is possibly one of the more challenging to obtain what I believe to be a realistic outcome for both provider and young person. A balance must be struck between both educational and work based skills and in my opinion, the current programme is extremely focussed on qualifications, where common sense in a working environment may be more useful in certain circumstances, especially with this cohort. I would like to pose this question. The young people are very much the future; can we afford not to have them in meaningful employment?

In this issue: August 2015
fragment image

Stand and deliver: Fresh austerity measures are on the way – but can public sector HR seize the strategic opportunity?

Eureka moment: HR at engineering firm AMFW

Going for gold: Maintaining the Olympic legacy

On the money: Providing innovative rewards

MA Business & Leisure Limited © Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved