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Temporary cap on migrant workers has had little impact on quality of UK workforce

Britain's workforce is unaffected by the temporary cap on migrant workers but cracks are showing in the care sector, logistics, manufacturing and construction, new research suggests.

One in three recruitment agencies have seen up to a 25% decrease in migrant workers but 79% are still able to find the right skilled workers for the job, according to research from de Poel.

The temporary cap, introduced by the coalition Government in June 2010, will cut the number of skilled workers from outside Europe by 1,300 by April 2011. A permanent cap is still under review.  

While de Poel’s figures show the cap is not affecting the overall quality of Britain’s workforce, further research shows 30% of recruitment agencies believe the care sector is most affected by the cap and the lack of skilled workers available. 

Of the other industries, 22% of agencies claim the logistics sector has particularly suffered while 21% believe manufacturing and 16% that construction has been hit the hardest.

Furthermore the use of temporary agency labour has dropped during September, re-enforcing fears of a possible downturn in the jobs market.

The number of hours worked by temporary agency staff dipped by 13% compared with August as companies cut staff due to fears of a double-dip recession and the impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Matthew Sanders, CEO of de Poel said: "The Government’s temporary cap on non-EU skilled migrants is very concerning for the future of our workforce and the quality of our staff.

"Our research should offer some reassurance to recruiters and employers but there’s a much bigger problem that needs addressing and that’s the current skills shortage affecting particular industries such as the care sector. Many of the agencies we work with are reporting hundreds of vacancies for qualified social care workers as such sectors rely heavily on skilled migrants to make up a large proportion of their workforce. 

"Our data also shows that the proportion of employers using agency staff has steadily weakened over the past few months.

"The Government needs to design the migration system so that it prevents migrants from undercutting British jobseekers but it doesn’t harm economic recovery. Recruitment agencies need to also be cautious and prepare for possible tough times ahead. "