Work permit reform to tackle UK skills crisis

The Government has announced an "open door" policy to make it
easier for companies to recruit staff from overseas, including lower skilled

Home secretary David Blunkett told last week’s Labour Party conference that
he would launch talks with employers and unions over how a system of managed
immigration might help sectors facing severe skills shortages.

"We will start discussions on ways in which we can allow skilled
migrants into the country deal with the pressures in sectors of the economy
where there are labour shortages and allow temporary workers into the country
for seasonal employment," said Blunkett.

He said he would reform the work permit system to make it easier for
immigrants to fill labour shortages as well as to combat illegal immigration
and clandestine working.

Discussions with employers would also focus on the issue of allowing
temporary workers into the UK for seasonal employment by building on the
seasonal worker scheme used in agriculture.

A new work permit system allowing highly-skilled people find jobs in Britain
is being introduced next January.

Blunkett also said he was exploring ways to enable overseas students who graduate
in the UK to apply for a work permit without having to leave the country first.

He is due to speak to the House of Commons at the end of this month about
reforms to immigration and asylum.

By Noel O’Reilly

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