Migration guru tells employers to boost pay to attract UK talent

A government immigration adviser has told firms concerned about labour shortages when the new immigration system takes over this week to push up wages.

David Metcalf, chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, which drew up the migrant worker shortage occupations list, insisted that employers finding it hard to attract staff should make their jobs more attractive by upping the pay on offer.

Some jobs, such as those working in kitchens below sous-chef level, are not included on the shortage list, despite many employers claiming they cannot recruit workers with the right skills in the UK.

But Metcalf told Personnel Today: “Employers will have to intensify their recruitment processes and raise their wages to attract British workers, or keep the migrant workers they do not want to lose.”

HR directors have previously told Personnel Today the new rules would lead to gaps in the workforce as migrant workers return home, but those vacancies are deemed ‘too unattractive’ for British employees.

Metcalf said: “What they’re arguing is that they don’t want to hire someone for £8.10 an hour, they want to do it for £6 an hour – but that doesn’t [make a job] qualify for the shortage list.”

However, the British Chambers of Commerce warned that any call for pay increases in the current climate was unrealistic.

Kieran O’Keeffe, senior policy adviser at the employers’ body, said: “Employers are facing serious financial pressures at the moment, and under current conditions very few would be in a position to substantially increase wages.”

Migrant workers: what’s changing?

Tier 2 of the new points-based scheme will replace the current work permit system on 27 November. Employers need to become sponsors to legally hire migrant workers. Around 2,000 employers have been granted sponsorship certificates so far, out of a potential 60,000. Organisations also need to check that the jobs they are recruiting overseas for outside the European Economic Area are on the list of shortage occupations. Visit www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/employers for more details.

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