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Demand for migrant workers rises

Demand for migrant workers has increased despite rising levels of unemployment, with more than a fifth of employers planning to recruit migrant workers in the first quarter of 2011.


However, one in six (17%) UK employers have been prevented from recruiting non-EU migrant workers due to the temporary cap on non-EU workers that is due to end in April 2011 and be replaced with a permanent cap, finds the latest CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook report. More than a third of NHS employers, for example, say that they have been restricted from recruiting skilled non-EU workers as a result of the temporary cap.

Almost two thirds (63%) of UK employers report that non-EU workers have allowed them to increase productivity. Public sector employers are more likely to report productivity improvements (66%) than private sector employers (50%).

Over four in 10 (43%) of the 759 employers surveyed report that they are struggling to fill vacancies from within the UK/EU, with 23% saying they are recruiting non-EU migrant workers for engineering vacancies, 15% for IT positions and 7% for both nursing and accountancy/finance positions.

The findings also point to greater offshoring activity, with 15% of private sector companies planning to offshore jobs in the 12 months to December 2011.  Fewer than one in 10 (9%) private sector employers planned to offshore jobs in the summer 2010 report. Of those planning to offshore UK jobs, almost three quarters (71%) intend to offshore to India, around a third to Europe (35%) and more than one in five to China (22%). The most common functions offshored by employers include IT (39%), call centres (25%), and finance (23%).

"It remains questionable whether the increase in the number of employer-related visas issued by the government for the next year will be enough to address the projected increase in the demand for migrant workers," said CIPD public policy adviser and author of the report Gerwyn Davies.

"We should not forget that the UK still has skills shortages in many key areas, nor should we forget that the number of non-EU workers amounts to the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands. Keeping out skilled non-EU workers won’t help unemployed people in the UK in the near term, but could have real and negative consequences for business and the public sector".