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More organisations turning to EU to fill highly skilled jobs despite annual cap, Tier 1 route for skilled non-EU migrants remains popular

26 August 2011 #Employment

CIPD research has shown that, despite the government`s immigration cap, the number of firms planning to recruit migrant workers has risen. Out of organisations who took part in the institute`s summer Labour Market Outlook survey, 25% said they planned to recruit migrants in the next quarter. This is a rise of 22% from the survey carried out in the spring. Six in ten employers saw a lack of job-specific skills in the UK as the reason for continuing to look abroad.

The annual immigration cap for non-EU nationals introduced by the government this April allows a maximum of 21,700 certificates of sponsorship (CoS) to be issued from April 2011 to April 2012. The CIPD`s Labour Market Outlook, published in February, reported that although the demand for migrant workers had increased, four out ten employers (from the 759 employers surveyed) faced difficulty in filling vacancies with workers from within the UK or EU.  However, one in six had been prevented from recruiting from outside the European Economic Area due to the temporary immigration cap then in place. Employers continue to face similar difficulties with the permanent cap.

From the CIPD`s recent research, perhaps worryingly for the government, employers affected by the cap often said that they are responding by recruiting more EU workers (34 per cent) which are not limited by the cap, rather than by up-skilling their existing workforce (23 per cent). Although there was some positive news from the government`s perspective as a quarter of employers said they would up-skill existing workers while 18 per cent said they would recruit more graduates. Despite the research showing that the intra-company transfers (ICTs) route under Tier 2 of the Points Based System is now seeing reduced use by employers because of the restrictions by the immigration cap to long term staff earning more than £40,000, the Tier 1 route for highly skilled non-EU workers remains popular. 34 per cent of the organisations surveyed said that were hiring staff through this route.

The Office for National Statistics has released immigration figures which show that Net Inward migration (the gap between those arriving to live in the UK and those leaving) to Britain rose by 21% on year in 2010 to 239,000. Long term immigration in 2010 i.e. those coming to live in Britain for more than 12 months - was 575,000. The Guardian reports that the 21% increase and figures indicate that the introduction of a temporary cap on work visas in July 2010, and made permanent this April has had little impact. The trend may well carry on if employers continue to respond to the immigration cap by turning to the EU market for skilled workers.

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