Overseas staff to be let into UK to fill skills gap

Seasonal and low skilled overseas workers will be allowed to enter the UK as
part of an expanded work permit system, immigration and citizenship minister
Jeff Rooker announced last week.

The Government wants to enable legitimate economic migration in a wider
range of sectors to fill skills shortages, delegates were told at a conference.

Consultation on the permit system will start early next year.

Lord Rooker warned that there would also be a crackdown on illegal working
and failed asylum applications in order to protect opportunities for the
resident workforce.

He said, "We are committed to an improved immigration system that
benefits the UK by giving skilled people properly managed, legitimate avenues
to come to Britain to work.

"Effectively managed migration and wider employment policies will help
undermine illegal working. Unscrupulous employers and gang masters must not be
allowed to get away with exploitation of workers."

He called on the trade union movement to take part in the discussions on how
to tackle illegal working at the TUC’s conference on international migration.

"We want to take the trade unions with us. We are not talking about a
crackdown that closes businesses or industries, but the implementation of a
better managed system of migration."

Rooker confirmed the Government’s plans to scrap the voucher system for
asylum-seekers and the introduction of a network of detention and removal
centres.

He also claimed that more resources would be put into the asylum appeals
process to speed up the turnaround of decisions.

"People traffic is bigger than drugs. We have to tackle the pull
factors and make sure that when they get here they do not disappear," he
said.

By Mike Broad

Changing Landscapes conference

The joint Employability Forum and Industrial Society conference examines the
Government’s new approach to immigration and crackdown on illegal working.

The groundbreaking event is on 15 January at Canada House, Trafalgar Square,
London. Speakers include the Home Secretary David Blunkett and Antonio
Vitorino, EU Commissioner on Justice and Home Affairs. Call 0870 400 1000 to
book.

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