UK tackles skills shortages with refugee programme

Managed migration is the key to meeting skills shortages and developing an
effective asylum system in the UK, Home Secretary David Blunkett has announced.

The UK government launched its Highly Skilled Migrant programme on 28
January, which will increase the number of well-qualified staff permitted to
work in the UK.

Blunkett said: "We must have managed migration and inward migration
policies to make sure those seeking work here or escaping persecution elsewhere
are manageable within the social cohesion of the UK."

He added: "Offering alternative routes [to claiming political asylum]
seems to me a prerequisite to getting the rest of the programme right."

Other economic migration initiatives include changing work permit procedures
to make extension easier, and increasing the period of validity of the permits
from four to five years.

A new scheme will allow seasonal and less skilled workers to secure permits,
and overseas graduates will now be able to apply for a work permit directly
following their studies.

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