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Immigration cap set to hurt some businesses more than others


The health, IT, science and food catering industries are likely to suffer the most following the Government’s deci- sion to cap skilled migrant workers entering the UK, an analysis of jobs shows.


Official statistics reveal that a fifth of jobs available in the health sector are taken up by non-EU migrant workers, while 19 per cent of roles in the food preparation trade - typically high-end caterers and head chefs - go to non- EU staff.


Limiting their numbers to the UK could drastically reduce the number of doctors, surgeons and other health profes- sionals working across the NHS and in private surgeries. Employers, who claim there is a skills shortage for these roles in the UK, could be forced to train up their own staff to meet demand - but this could take years.


The figures, from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, also reveal 16 per cent of jobs in the research and development field, as well as in the information, com- munication and technology sector, are occupied by non- EU migrants.


By comparison, the most common jobs occupied by migrant workers from within the EU are in the factory, farming and cleaning industries, the figures showed. Some 18 per cent of employment in the “elementary pro- cess plant” sector is taken up by EU workers, the UK CES statistics revealed.


The analysis of jobs comes after the Government’s skills tsar, Chris Humphries, warned earlier this week the immigration cap - which only applies to non-EU migrants - will not deal with the problem “causing the public the greatest concern”.


Last year, the row over “British jobs for British workers” dominated public debate about immigration. A series of wildcat protests began at factories nationwide when it was claimed foreign employers were prioritising jobs for foreign workers. However, the foreign workers in ques- tion were from the EU.


Employment experts reiterated concerns that the immi- gration cap on non-EU workers will do nothing but create skills shortages for important industries in the UK, which could affect productivity and drive up wage costs.


According to Ann Swain, chief executive at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies, “The vast majority of foreign workers arriving in the UK are EU nationals who won’t be affected by the cap. Worries over immigration centre on low skilled workers being undercut, so cap- ping the flow of highly skilled workers seems a strange policy.” She believes the Government could be damaging high value sectors of the economy where skills shortages can hinder growth.


Spice Business Magazine 25 December 2010


Home Secretary Theresa May has outlined plans to cap the number of non-EU skilled workers arriving by more than a fifth com 2009 levels, from 28,000 a year down to 21,700.


While the cap will not include workers transferring to the UK via the intra-company transfer system, it will limit the number of workers coming into the UK Tier 1 to 1,000. This category is reserved for highly-skilled workers such as engineers, scientists or doctors.


Caron Pope, an immigra- tion lawyer at CMS Cameron, says the measures will sig- nificantly curtail the flexibility of the country’s immigra-


tion system, adding,”While it is hard to predict what the immigration landscape will look like in the coming months it is clear that restrictions on immigration will remain a key concern for business.”


Experts have also warned that companies who regu- larly use Tier 1 will face the extra burden of registering as a sponsor to employ people under Tier 2. According to Linda Beedie, an employ- ment lawyer at Bond Pearce, “The virtual removal of Tier 1 will impose further burdens on employers. They will now require to become licensed to offer Tier 2 visas to those vital skilled workers from outside the EU.”


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