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Employers fear immigration cap will devastate UK companies

23 Aug 2010

Employers' groups are calling on the Government to rethink its immigration cap as figures today reveal that almost one in 10 private sector companies plan to relocate jobs abroad within the next year.

Companies are looking to export call-centre, IT and finance jobs, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the accounting giant KPMG. Two-thirds of those putting work offshore intend to take jobs to India, a third to China and three out of 10 to Eastern Europe. The CIPD warns that more jobs are being sent offshore, and that an immigration cap, imposed too quickly, could have a "devastating" impact on the economy.

Today's research suggests that fears of a dramatic decline in the skills of British graduates and school-leavers are driving employers to look abroad.

Of those questioned, 42% felt the literacy skills of British graduates had fallen over the past five years, compared with just 6% who said they had improved. For numeracy the corresponding figures were 35% and 5%, and for communication and interpersonal skills 34% and 19%. There was a similar pattern when it came to British school-leavers.

The cap is a Conservative Party policy announced before the election after the party's MPs said immigration was being raised repeatedly. David Cameron said he wanted net immigration to fall from its current position (163,000 in 2008) to the "tens of thousands".

Employers say they want to have access to the best workers. Andrew Marshall, Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce says:

"Companies want to hire local people, but they often have trouble finding local residents with the basic skills, drive and attitude needed to help the business succeed."

However, advocates of the cap disagree. Sir Andrew Green, Chair of MigrationWatch UK – a thinktank in favour of reducing immigration sharply – says:

"The reality is that for every skilled worker imported, that is a British worker not trained. Employers should stop complaining and start training.”

Read more at the Guardian.

Tags: Adult Basic Skills, Adults, Business & corporate partners, Words for Work, Young People

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