Immigration limits must meet employers’ needs

Any efforts to limit immigration must meet the needs of employers who rely on migrant labour to plug skills gaps, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

New CIPD research shows that employers are reliant on migrant labour to fill professional and skilled trade vacancies, highlighting the challenge of framing the new legislation on immigration promised in the Queen’s Speech.

The CIPD’s quarterly Labour Market Outlook, which reports the results of a survey of 1,300 employers, reveals:

  • 27% of employers intend to recruit from abroad in this economic quarter
  • The dominant reasons for recruiting from abroad given by employers are a shortage of candidates with the required experience (59%) or the required skills (56%)
  • 18% also highlight a greater level of commitment and willingness to work than UK-based jobseekers, with only 5% citing lower wage costs
  • 56% of employers recruiting from abroad are looking to fill professional (48%) or skilled trade (8%) vacancies; 19% are filling manual vacancies, and less than 5% are seeking to recruit to unskilled vacancies.

John Philpott, chief economist at the CIPD, said: “Any efforts to improve the management of the migration system must take great care to ensure that the legitimate needs of employers are met, while also securing the wider interests of the economy and society. 

“A flexible assessment system, as seems likely to be brought forward by the government, should offer comfort to the many employers forced to look abroad to fill professional and skilled vacancies,” he said.

“There is a false impression that migrant workers are predominantly being shipped in to fill low skill, low wage jobs, but the reality is that it is professional and high skill vacancies that are fuelling the international search for labour. 

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