British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) has asked the government to work together with business to ensure the country’s education system is responsive to the needs of the economy.
Commenting on the speech by Labour leader Ed Miliband in which he promised new immigration measures to protect British workers, John Longworth, Director General of the BCC said: “Ed Miliband is right to say that we cannot close Britain off from the world, and that we need a grown up debate on immigration. But for too long, UK firms have struggled to find the skilled workers they need locally, and in some sectors are forced to recruit from overseas.
“Employers are concerned about high levels of unemployment, particularly among the young, and want to help local people into work. However, they often find that domestic candidates lack the skills, experience and work ethic they need – it has nothing to do with costs.”
Mr. Longworth said the UK should not focus on protecting local workers from foreign competition, but instead “must ensure they are equipped with the right skills to compete with the best in the world.”
While welcoming the measures to crack down on any businesses that are flouting the rules on national minimum wage, Mr. Longworth said “it would be wrong to suggest this is a widespread issue. Our members tell us they hire based on skills, not on wages.”