Phil Woolas, the new Immigration minister following Friday’s Cabinet reshuffle, took up the Recruitment and Employment Confederation ‘s (REC) warning that an artificial cap on migrants coming to the UK from outside the EU may pose difficulties for recruiters and employers looking for applicants to fill certain roles in the labour market.
The Minister’s remarks over the weekend suggest a possible shift in Government thinking towards the possibility of a cap on migrant numbers, after years in which ministers have focused on ensuring that those entering the country hold skills that contribute to the economy. The Government’s points-based system is intended to ensure that non-EU nationals without useful job skills are barred from entry to the UK, while high-skilled migrants are welcomed.
“On a common sense level, “ he added however, “there has to be a limit to the population. You have to have a policy that thinks about the population implication as well as the immigration implication."
Anne Fairweather, head of public policy at the REC, said:
“Immigration policy does need to be looked at in the round. Ultimately skills shortages should be tackled through training and moving more people from welfare into work. However in the shorter term immigration policy needs to reflect the reality that it is difficult to recruit in certain sectors. Where there is a high demand, recruiters can often face real difficulties finding candidates with the right skills. Often the only option is to look for candidates from abroad who have the necessary skills and aptitudes.”
Fairweather continued: “The labour market is changing very quickly, many migrants from the EU are now returning home; at the same time it is difficult to assess the full impact of the current economic uncertainty. At this time we need an immigration system that can flex to the demands of businesses, not an artificial cap which could be to the detriment of not only the UK economy but also the delivery of front line services.”
Recently, the REC met with the Migration and Advisory Committee that advises the Home Office on skill shortages which can only be met by immigration. The REC made the point that a flexible immigration policy is required to meet short term needs.