Tories: quotas won’t affect skills

The Conservatives have played down fears that their proposed changes to immigration rules will result in further skills shortages.

Shadow attorney general, Dominic Grieve, told Personnel Today that employers were “worrying about nothing” when it came to the Conservatives’ controversial immigration quota plans.

Conservative leader, Michael Howard, announced last week that his party would set an annual limit on immigration and a quota for asylum seekers if they won the next general election.

Unemployment is at a record low in the UK, and many industries report a severe lack of available labour.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) warned that employers were recruiting high levels of migrant labour to cover shortages of professional skills, as well as filling low skill vacancies in the UK.

The CIPD said careful scrutiny should be given to any proposal that included quotas if it wasn’t to make the dwindling availability of labour even smaller.

However, Grieve said that Tory plans would ensure a supply of both high and low-skilled workers in to the UK.

“If employers are talking about individuals with low skills filling the labour pool at the bottom, the new EU accession states have many people wanting to come into our country and work on higher wages,” said Grieve.

“For individuals with high-level skills who are indispensable, there are going to be work permits aplenty. Nursing is a classic quota area. There is a nursing skills shortage that can’t be met from the EU. We are going to make a work quota sufficient to fill those slots from South Africa, the Philippines, or anywhere else.”

Grieve said quotas would be set after consultation with government and employers organisations such as the CBI.

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