As the political debate over immigration becomes increasingly charged, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has published further figures showing how employers are increasingly using migrant workers to fill vacancies.
The figures add flesh to a survey published by the CIPD last month, and show that more than half of all employers felt professional vacancies and skilled trade vacancies had proved the most difficult to fill in recent months.
Almost one in three employers said they were planning to recruit workers from overseas to fill vacancies.
Among larger companies, with more than 500 employees, this figure rose to 40 per cent.
Recruitment from abroad varied from region to region, with nearly half – 45 per cent – of employers in London saying they intended to recruit from abroad, compared with only 13 per cent in the north east of England.
The public sector was most likely to turn to migrant workers, with 34 per cent of public sector employers planning to do so, compared with 27 per cent in the private sector and 24 per cent in the not-for-profit sector.
Three-quarters of employers were offering migrant workers permanent contracts, while fewer than 10 per cent offering only short-term or seasonal contracts.
Nearly half – 45 per cent – wanted overseas’ workers with professional skills, while 22 per cent sought employees with technical skills.
CIPD chief economist John Philpott warned that curbs on economic migrants could be damaging for employers.
"CIPD surveys show that one in three UK employers are actively recruiting migrant workers to fill all manner of job vacancies in areas ranging from agriculture and food processing to NHS hospitals, bars and restaurants.
"Curbs on economic migration will inevitably frustrate some employers and exacerbate already severe recruitment problems,” he added.