British employers believe that migrants are significantly harder working, more reliable, more skilled, better educated and more productive than their British colleagues.
A poll of 500 employers by the Institute of Directors (IoD) found that migrants are viewed as outperforming indigenous employees "by a large margin" across a whole range of measures.
Underlining this belief, a lack of skills among the British workforce was by far the most common reason given for employing migrants, cited by some six out of 10 employers. In contrast, just 16 per cent said they employed migrants because they were cheaper.
Unsurprisingly, IoD members emerged as being very supportive of encouraging immigration into the UK, with almost six out of 10 (57 per cent) supporting a policy of total freedom of movement of labour within the EU.
Nevertheless, they also have serious doubts about the Government's performance over immigration policy. Only 13 per cent of IoD members think the Government has an effective immigration policy, whereas 73 per cent think it is ineffective.
Those surveyed also overwhelmingly disagree with the view that immigration should be completely unrestricted, with eight out of 10 disagreeing with the view that there should be 'no obvious upper limit' to immigration.
"As demonstrated by our survey, migrant workers provide a vital boost to the UK economy," said Miles Templeman, IoD Director General.
"It also, more than we expected, shows that migrant workers outperform across a whole range of measures including productivity, education and skills, work ethic, reliability and the amount of sick leave. Immigration however, should not be left unrestricted and should be controlled on a skills basis."
And he added: "in a global economy, the UK workforce has got to raise its game on skills and performance."