Today, it has been reported that Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has written to Theresa May, warning her that restrictions on workers from outside the EU are beginning to damage the UK’s recovery. Cable has called on his Conservative coalition colleagues to scrap their cap on skilled worker visas. Last week, Alistair Cox, chief executive of recruitment group Hays, also issued warnings over immigration fears damaging Britain’s economic growth.
Katja Hall: These Migrants have Skills that we have a Shortage of in the UK
Table has been known to repeatedly clash with the Home Secretary over the immigration policy. He has warned her that if businesses cannot hire the staff with the skill set they require, positions will remain vacant at a “crucial time” for the UK economy.
The Liberal Democrat member has suggested that if ministers cannot drop the cap altogether, the Home Office should allow unused allocations from previous years. For example, a total of 6,780 visas were not taken up in the last financial year. Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the CBI, the employers’ organisation has agreed with Cable stating that the limit should be more flexible.
“[These migrants] have skills that we have a shortage of in the UK . . . so these people are essential to our recovery. High quality global journalism requires investment. A lot of the sectors that we rely on to make sure the recovery is strong demand those skills and we cannot find them here in the UK, so we have to make sure our migration system does not act as a break on growth. We want companies to come and invest here in the UK but in order to be able to do that they need to know they can get the people they need.”
Alistair Cox: If we want to build World-Class Businesses in a World-Class Economy we need World-Class Talent
Alistair Cox, boss of the white-collar recruiter Hays, has echoed Cable’s sentiment for the Government to abandon its net migration target. Describing the cap as ‘meaningless’ and ‘uncontrollable’. He added that the companies he deals with are experiencing problems finding people to fill skilled roles in engineering, manufacturing, energy, construction and IT, potentially putting plans for projects such as HS2 or increased new airport capacity at risk.
“There are high-level jobs being created today in this country which we simply cannot fill. That situation is unlikely to get any easier as the economy continues to recover. We have a straightforward choice: we can keep complaining about it and let our economic growth be less than it would otherwise… or we can say ‘No, we don’t want to accept that’ but the answers are not easy. There are a number of things we have to do and some people won’t like it but we have to do it.”
“If we want to build world-class businesses in a world-class economy we need world-class talent and we should be ‘passport blind’ to that at a highly skilled level.”
According to statistics released by the Office for National Statistics, in 2013-2014 net migration into the UK rose by almost 39% to 243,000. In the year to March a total of 560,000 immigrants arrived in the UK, while an estimated 316,000 people left the country.
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