Economic evidence demonstrates immigration has been a net benefit to the UK, CBI president Sir Mike Rake said at the CBI Annual Conference.
Drawing on his experience of the difficulty recruiting skilled workers at BT, Sir Mike said that while skilled migration is valuable, there is not an either or choice between immigration or upskilling the workforce.
He acknowledged the disconnect between business and the public on this issue, with many people worried about competition for jobs especially in low-skilled sectors.
“To be successful in future, we need the pragmatism and common sense that Britain is renowned for. We also need the courage and confidence to be open to the world so we can rise to its challenges and make the most of its opportunities,” Sir Mike said.
He also stressed that UK’s membership of a reformed EU was overwhelmingly in the country’s national interest.