New Europeans provide 40,000 workers in first quarter

Workers from the eight accession states are continuing to take up hard-to-fill job vacancies in the UK a year after their countries joined the European Union, new Home Office figures reveal.

The latest Worker Registration Scheme figures show that just over 40,000 people from the new European states applied to the scheme between January and March 2005.

This brought the total number of applicants since May 2004 to 176,000, although many workers may only have stayed in the UK for a short time.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has also released research which shows that EU migrants are benefiting employers and the economy.

The CIPD’s quarterly Labour Market Outlook, which reports the results of a survey of 1,300 employers, reveals that 27% of employers intend to recruit from abroad in this economic quarter.

The primary reasons for for this choice are the shortage of UK 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.

More than half (56%) of employers are recruiting from abroad 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. 

“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.”

If the system is set too rigidly there is a danger that employers will find themselves falling behind international competitors as a result of the shortage of the people needed to deliver business growth, Philpott warned.

Policy makers must not allow efforts to address public concerns about migration to result in legislation that will damage economic growth, he said.

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