Britain's employers 'need migrant workers'

May 18 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Any efforts to limit immigration into Britain must meet the needs of employers reliant on migrant labour to plug skills gaps and wider recruitment difficulties, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

CIPD research shows that employers are reliant on migrant labour to fill professional and skilled trade vacancies, highlighting the challenge for policy makers in framing the new legislation on immigration promised in the Queen's speech.

The CIPD's quarterly Labour Market Outlook, which reports the results of a survey of 1,300 employers, found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of employers intend to recruit from abroad in this quarter.

The main reasons for looking abroad are a shortage of candidates with the required experience (59 per cent) or the required skills (56 per cent).

But almost one in five (18 per cent) of employers also highlight a greater level of commitment and willingness to work than UK-based jobseekers, while a mere five per cent cite lower wage costs.

The survey also revealed that almost six out of 10 employers (56 per cent) recruiting from abroad are looking to fill professional or skilled trade vacancies.

"Any efforts to improve the management of the migration system must take great care to ensure that the legitimate needs of employers are met, while also securing the wider interests of the economy and society," said John Philpott, the CIPD's Chief Economist.

"There is a false impression that migrant workers are predominantly being shipped in to fill low skill, low wage jobs, but the reality is that it is professional and high skill vacancies that are fuelling the international search for labour.

"However, if the system is set too rigidly there is a danger that employers will find themselves falling behind international competitors due to a shortage of the people needed to deliver business growth.

"Policy makers must make sure that they do not allow efforts to address public concerns about migration to result in legislation that will damage economic growth."