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CIPD: Government must allow skilled workers from outside EU into UK to work

The CIPD has urged the Government to allow sufficient skilled non-EU workers to enter the UK, if the post-study route to jobs is closed.

New restrictions that will prevent foreign students who are studying in Britain but born outside the EU from remaining in the UK to take up jobs after their studies, mean it is crucial that sufficient skilled non-EU workers are allowed to enter the UK, says the CIPD.

The CIPD has supported a recommendation from the Migration Advisory Committee to maintain the current Tier 2 visa limit for skilled non-EU workers.

In its submission to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the CIPD argued a freezing of the current Tier 2 visa limit for April 2012-13 would still amount in real terms to a 25% decrease in the total number of non-EU skilled workers available to employers, because many of those who formerly came through the post-study route would now transfer to Tier 2.

The CIPD argues a fall of this magnitude may leave many employers struggling to fill skilled vacancies in the first half of next year if business conditions improve in the next 12 months.

The CIPD also recommended the £40,000 income threshold for intra-company transferees be maintained, as it does not lead to migrants under-cutting UK workers, a position the MAC has also agreed with.

CIPD research suggests that the economic crisis and resultant stagnation in the labour market have meant that only a tiny proportion of UK employers say that the permanent cap has had a damaging impact on them since its introduction in April 2011. But the organisation has warned the Government will need to be ready to respond flexibly as the economy recovers, if the UK wants employers to have access to a sufficient supply of skilled labour to drive growth and international competiveness. The migration cap was introduced to put an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants that can live and work in the UK.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser, said: "With the post-study route due to close in April, the Government needs to be ready to raise the Tier 2 visa bar to ensure UK employers have access to the skills they need to drive growth. As the economy recovers, demand for skilled staff could quickly outstrip demand. Tier 2 visas account for a very small proportion of total immigration, but could make a big difference to British business.

"Growth must be prioritised over symbolic measures to 'crack down on immigration'. Even at current levels, the number of Tier 2 visas is so low that any further reductions would have a very limited impact on its overall aim of reducing net migration levels to the level of the tens of thousands," Davies added.