UK work permit cap 'not harming economy'

13 Sep 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK work permit cap is not damaging the country's economy, according to recent comments from Professor David Metcalf, the government's chief immigration adviser.

Mr Metcalfe stated that the number of people coming to the UK from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) was actually less than half of the total allowed, with just 8,900 people immigrating to the UK through the Tier 2 work permit route in the 12 months to June.

If the adviser's figures are correct, this is significantly less than the cap of 20,700 imposed by the government, casting doubt on suggestions that recruitment has been restricted by the changes.

Professor Metcalf, who is also head of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), recently encouraged the government and businesses to push for improved skills within the UK workforce, rather than risk the development of a reliance on migrant workers.

His comments followed the publication of the MAC's latest list of job titles which, it believes, no longer justify recruitment from outside of the EEA. Orchestral musicians, biology teachers and certain specialised medical consultants are among those the group believes should be removed from Shortage Occupation List.

However, the role of skilled chef will remain on the list as the MAC found that there is still strong evidence supporting the need to recruit from outside of the EEA for this particular line of work.

In total, the number of jobs on the shortage list is due to be reduced by 70,000 to just 190,000 if the committee's recommendations go ahead.