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CMI: Immigration focus misaligned with business leaders' priorities

Political parties' preoccupation with immigration in the run-up to next year's election is at odds with the issues business leaders would like to see widely discussed, according to a report by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The annual Future Forecast is based on a survey of 1,253 managers across the UK. It suggests only 4% of managers see limiting the movement of labour within the EU as a top political priority.

Most managers see providing work experience for every young person in the country as most important. More than three quarters (79%) agree that this is the more pressing issue for business.

More than half (59%) support an increase in the national minimum wage, while 43% believe zero-hours contracts should be abolished.

Overall, managers are slightly less optimistic about the prospects for the UK economy than they were at the end of 2013. A little more than half (51%) are optimistic about the upcoming 12 months, compared to 55% this time last year.

CMI chief executive Ann Francke said that employers want "people policies that will help them motivate and upskill their teams" from the politicians in Westminster.

"Rather than election rhetoric we need to see a commitment to shifting business culture in this direction," she said. "We must move away from an obsession with short-term priorities and help organisations to be clearer about their purpose, to better support their people, and to invest to grow future potential.”