British employers are recruiting increasing numbers of professional and managerial level workers from Eastern Europe because they cannot find enough skilled staff in the UK.
The latest findings from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI) reveal that one in 10 organisations surveyed recruit from Eastern EU countries, making this the most popular source of managerial, professional and technical workers from overseas.
To date, the focus has been on the number of semi- and unskilled workers being recruited to the UK, particularly in sectors such as building and construction.
But the latest RCI research, produced by Cranfield School of Management and The Daily Telegraph, suggests that the real story is about far more than just Polish plumbers, with an increasing number of workers from Eastern Europe being recruited into more skilled and senior roles.
One in 10 organisations said they recruit to managerial, professional and technical positions from Eastern EU countries. A further seven per cent recruit from the rest of the EU, while four per cent recruit from Asia and the same proportion from the United States and Canada.
Skill shortages are the main reason for overseas recruitment, with four out of 10 of the 1,000 senior managers surveyed across the UK reporting a fall in the quality of job applicants over the last year.
Almost a third of organisations (31%) have increased their overseas recruitment because of skills shortages, two-thirds say they have experienced recruitment difficulties due to skills shortages and almost all respondents - 98% - expect these difficulties to remain the same, or even rise, over the next 12 months.
Half of organisations added that skills shortages have increased over the past year.
Three-quarters of those surveyed said that they were also responding to these difficulties by developing their existing employees. Half are also offering increased training as part of the recruitment package.
"The UK simply doesn't have enough skilled people to meet the demands of a growing economy and an ageing population," said Shaun Tyson, Professor of Human Resource Management at Cranfield School of Management.
"Expansion in the economy is becoming increasingly dependent upon attracting high quality employees from overseas. We anticipate European labour markets will therefore grow in significance to employers".