Tighter immigration rules to crack down on the number of migrant workers may only produce 6,000 less applications to the UK, the government has admitted.
The new curbs on hiring migrant staff brought in last month include making sure highly skilled workers had a Masters degree and that jobs for skilled workers were advertised at job centres first before recruiting non-EU workers.
The changes to Tiers 1 and 2 of the points-based system (PBS) respectively were supposed to ease the row over ‘British workers for British jobs’ by giving UK employees first dibs.
But a government analysis of the changes, out last week, found the number of successful applications by migrant workers would be reduced by between 6,000 and 24,000. The net immigration of migrants to the UK is 240,000.
Campaign groups including Migrationwatch warned the tighter rules would have little impact, yet they have already caused employers greater recruitment headaches.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas defended changes to Tiers 1 and 2 in parliament last week. He said: “The PBS is part of a robust system of controls that is designed to prevent illegal migration and to welcome only those migrants that the country needs.”
A UK Border Agency spokesman added: “The important thing is that numbers start to go down rather than up in a recession, and that we ensure that those migrants who do come either have a high level of skill, and therefore bring the most economic contribution, or have a specific job to come to that no resident worker can fill.”