CBI gives cautious welcome to migration proposals

Well-managed migration is good for the UK economy, but the new points-based immigation system system must meet the needs of employers, the CBI said today.

Under government proposals, skilled and highly skilled migrant workers would be allowed to settle in the UK after five years (up from the current four-year period).

Publishing its response to the government’s consultation on the proposals, the CBI said the flexibility to recruit from abroad must be safeguarded and that any reform of migration policies must it more difficult to employ illegal workers.

Just under a fifth of employers have recruited from outside the EU to fill skills and labour gaps, according to the CBI’s latest Employment Trends survey.

Susan Anderson, CBI director of HR policy, said: “Well-managed migration helps fill labour and skills shortages and without it many firms would suffer –- particularly in sectors such as construction and hospitality. But it is not a panacea and must be balanced with improved training and education for the UK’s homegrown workforce.

She said the current system was overly complex.

“Some progress has been made in targeting and preventing illegal working, but more needs to be done,” she said. “Making deliberate employment of illegal migrants a criminal offence is right, but fines and enforcement must be targeted on rogue firms who operate outside the rules.”

The government will announce firm proposals for implementation of the new migration policy in the spring of 2006.

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