Organisations must train UK staff before bringing in migrant workers

A government adviser who helped create the new points-based immigration system has warned employers that they will not be able to bring in workers from outside the EU unless they also demonstrate their efforts to train UK workers.

David Metcalfe, chairman of the Migration Advisory Committee, said training programmes would be taken into account in assessing whether a skill was sufficiently in demand to merit migrant workers being brought in.

“We will take into account what else employers are doing to fill the skills gaps,” he said, speaking at the CBI Migration Summit 2008 in London yesterday.

“Are they doing things to do with training as well as immigration? If they are not training, then the case for bringing in labour from abroad will be very much weaker.”

In September, the Migration Advisory Committee published a list of occupations for which there is a shortage of skilled workers in the UK, to be used in Tier 2 of the new points-based system.

Employment relations minister Pat McFadden said the government’s aim with the new system was to improve the skills of UK workers as well as to better manage immigration.

“Migration and the free movement of people is not an excuse for avoiding the essential task of equipping people with skills in the UK,” he said at the summit.

“It’s not just about the migrants who come to the UK – there are issues about the skills that are here. The skills system needs to be more responsive to needs and give businesses the ability to grow and succeed. It’s about equipping workers with the right skills, rather than about protecting individual jobs,” McFadden said.

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