The occupational shortlist of skilled jobs published yesterday to cut the number of migrant workers is “unhelpful” for some sectors where wages don’t reflect their true value, the TUC has warned.
General secretary Brendan Barber has claimed that with particular groups of staff, such as care workers, the definition of ‘skilled’ may be skewed because of low wages or the funding structure of the industry. But they are dedicated staff who are needed by the vulnerable adults or elderly they care for, and as such Britian could lose out on much-needed talent.
He said: “There are practical issues about particular groups of workers, often where wages don’t reflect their true value or the funding structure of the industry. Particularly where employers and unions are working well together, such as in relation to senior care workers, these decisions are unhelpful. In that sector, many dedicated staff will be ineligible to work in the UK, which will also be upsetting to many of the vulnerable people they care for.
“The government should take account of the relationship between wages and skills when deciding whether or not to accept the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) recommendations.”
He added that unions would play an important role in ensuring that workers and employers were clear about their rights and responsibilities under the new arrangements.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation, which represents some 14,000 businesses and recruitment consultants, welcomed the report but its external relations director, Tom Hadley, said: “The effect of the compromise position on social care and hospitality workers will need to be watched. It is vital that positions in these areas can continue to be resourced.”
Business group the CBI also called for flexibility in the new system to reflect the changing needs of the labour market. Katja Hall, director of employment, added: “While migrant workers have brought great benefits to the UK economy, they are not a long-term solution to the skills problems that we face. We have to upskill our home-grown workforce if we are to stay globally competitive.”
The Occupational Shortage lists will be used in Tier 2 of the Points Based System to identify skilled migrants from outside the EU to fill specific skills shortages in the UK. Applicants who apply to an occupation on the list will easier to recruit to positions in the UK providing they fulfil the language and maintenance requirements.
The full recommended UK shortage list includes:
- consultants and senior nurses in particular healthcare specialisms
- some engineering occupations, including civil and chemical engineers
- quantity surveyors and project managers for property development and
- secondary school teachers in the subjects of maths and science
- skilled chefs
- skilled senior care workers
- ship and hovercraft officers
- some animal care occupations, including veterinary surgeons.