Employers wishing to recruit migrant workers to fill skilled posts will have to prove they cannot find any workers in the UK under new proposals published by the Home Office.
The government’s new points-based immigration system includes much tighter rules for skilled and temporary workers. They will replace around 30 different routes into the UK, including the old work permit system.
British-based companies will also have to show that a vacancy has been advertised in the UK, unless the job is on the shortage occupation list. And would-be migrants will need a job offer before they can even apply for a visa.
The Home Office also announced that if these tighter ‘Tier 2’ and ‘Tier 5’ rules had been in place last year, around 10% fewer skilled and temporary migrants from outside Europe would have been allowed into Britain to work – around 20,000 people.
Border and immigration minister Liam Byrne said the points system means British jobseekers will now get the “first crack of the whip”, and that only the skilled migrants needed would be able to come to the UK.
“By moving points up or down, we can make sure the numbers we allow in to the UK are in line with the needs of business and the country as a whole,” he said.
Chief economist John Philpott at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), which is broadly supportive of the points-based system, said that employers looking to hire skilled workers from outside the EU must get up to speed with the detail of the new system fast.
“Consultations with CIPD members show that at least one in three UK employers are actively recruiting migrant workers to fill job vacancies at all skill levels and in many sectors, ranging from agriculture and food processing to IT, shops, hotels, bars and restaurants, care homes and public services.
“CIPD consultations with employers suggest that there will be considerable teething troubles during the course of the roll-out of the new system,” Philpott warned. “It is evident from our consultations that the Home Office will have to display considerable efficiency and dexterity in introducing the new system in order to avoid a welter of employer confusion and complaints.”
Susan Anderson, the CBI’s director of HR policy, said: “Migrants play an important role in helping UK firms fill skilled jobs where they would otherwise struggle to find staff. The work permit system must be flexible enough to respond to the changing needs of firms, and today’s rules should help deliver this.
“In the longer term, the UK’s competitiveness depends on its home-grown talent. Firms already play their part in this, investing £33bn a year in training their staff, but ensuring our young people leave education with the skills and attitudes they need to succeed in work is also vital.”