Skilled foreign staff to get fast-track permits

Employers and recruiters have welcomed government plans to offer fast-track
work permits to overseas staff in industries suffering skills shortages.

The new arrangement, being pushed forward by the DfEE, is intended to cut the
processing time for 80 per cent of applications to one week by March 2001. It
will provide employers with a one-stop shop for renewing employees’ permits
including passport stamping.

The proposals have been widely welcomed.

Andy Powell, chief executive of the NTO national council, said the
Government has taken a positive course of action. He said NTOs in IT,
e-business, telecoms and engineering have developed the idea to rework the
rules on work permits to meet pressing skills shortages.

But he acknowledged that in the longer term there should be a drive to
ensure the UK grows the right skills. "We need to do more so that in all
areas we are ensuring the education system is geared to employer needs."

The UK’s IT industry, currently plagued by a high-profile skills shortage,
is likely to be one of the first sectors to benefit. The Computing Services and
Software Association has already said the revamp of the permit rules will help
put the UK ahead of other European countries.

John Killick, managing consultant at financial recruitment firm PSD Group,
said the shake-up of work permits is necessary in the recruitment of staff such
as actuaries. He said the proposals will add to the international mobility of
qualified professionals.

The DfEE proposals

• Fast-track permits in sectors with skills shortage

• Pilot scheme for multinationals to self-certify employee transfers

• Season ticket permits for people working short periods on a regular basis

• Increase in the maximum length of permit from four years to five

• Programme to quickly identify sectors with skills shortage

Occupations which will get fast-track applications

Analyst programmers, software engineers, database specialists, IT managers,
business analysts, network specialists, incorporated and chartered engineers,
aircraft engineers, clinical psychologists. Pharmacists, occupational
therapists, actuaries, veterinary surgeons, physiotherapists, doctors, nurses

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