Economic migration won’t fill the skills gap, say Tory MPs

The majority of Conservative MPs dismiss economic migration as a way of plugging UK skills gaps, according to a survey published today.

About 60% of employers admit that they currently have problems recruiting new employees with the required skills.

But the Mori survey of 29 Tories, for Skills for Business, reveals that fewer than two in 10 support economic migration as a means to reduce UK’s skills shortages.

This contradicts the views of MPs in the other two main political parties, the majority of whom believe that economic migration should be encouraged to close the UK’s skills gap.

The findings come on the day the Tories prepare to discuss skills issues at their annual conference.

Professor Mike Campbell, director of research at Skills for Business, said: “The fact that Tories are so against economic migration is a startling revelation.

“Skills gaps and shortages have been identified in labour market research as the root of Britain’s falling productivity levels. We need to address this quickly and efficiently if we are to avoid the very real risk of serious economic implications for the future prosperity of the UK.

“Migrant workers introduce new skills to the existing workforce and it is important for all members of the House to appreciate the benefits of embracing overseas talent.”

Specific findings from the survey of 98 Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem MPs:

  • 87% of Labour MPs agree that economic migration should be used to plug skills shortages in the UK

  • 85% of Conservative MPs agree that the limited skills available in the current workplace are constraining UK employers from producing more complex products or better services

  • Three in four Tory MPs believe that the gap between the skills we need and the skills we have among our workforce is growing

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