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Employers are struggling to fill their vacancies according to a report from the CIPD and KPMG.

The CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Survey shows almost half (45%) of the 600 employers surveyed report vacancies that are hard to fill, with 21% saying they are recruiting migrant workers for engineering vacancies, and 18% for both IT and accountancy/finance positions.

As a result, almost one-fifth (17%) intend to recruit migrant workers in the third quarter of 2010. In the past three months, one in five (21%) of employers surveyed recruited migrant workers with over a third (37%) of these workers being recruited from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). More than half of migrant workers hired by the financial sector come from outside the EEA.

The findings also point to greater offshoring activity. Nearly one in ten (9%) private sector companies plan to offshore jobs in the 12 months to June 2011. Of those planning to offshore UK jobs, two-thirds (65%) intend to offshore to India, a third to China (36%) and three in ten to eastern Europe (29%). The most common functions outsourced by employers include call centres (55%), IT (51%), and finance (49%).

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser and author of the report, said: "The study highlights the complex juggling act the government now faces. The proposed introduction of a migration cap comes at a time when many employers are still struggling to fill skilled vacancies; despite the high unemployment rate.

"The training of local or British workers to fill skilled jobs currently occupied by migrant workers will not happen overnight. And despite our efforts to educate and train staff for shortage occupations, there is no guarantee that they will go on to progress in that career; as we have found with engineers.

"If a cap is to be introduced therefore, it has to be gradually phased in to avoid harming UK competitiveness. Employers running global operations will be forced to offshore skilled jobs to other countries if the right skills mix in the UK cannot be found."      

Malcolm Edge, KPMG UK head of markets, added: "Our own research shows that UK businesses are increasingly optimistic about their prospects.  In moving forward, businesses need the right people with the right skills.  Increasingly, they are looking overseas to address this skills gap recruiting people to the UK or deciding to offshore both work and jobs.  If the Coalition government do decide to introduce a cap, they will need to work closely with business to ensure that there is a correct balance between investment here in the UK and abroad."