UK work permit cap sees businesses 'suffer'

10 Dec 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The cap on UK work permits is proving to be a real problem for recruiters in certain sectors, who are struggling to find suitable employees to fill certain skilled positions.

This is the view expressed by Lord Karan Bilimoria in a recent article for The Observer, in which he argued that the “government's cap on immigration numbers is crude and blunt”.

“It stifles the good immigration that this country has been built on over the centuries,” Lord Bilimoria, owner of the Cobra Beer brand, added.

One area struggling to fill positions due to immigration restrictions is the Indian restaurant industry, which Lord Bilimoria claims is “suffering because it cannot bring in the skilled staff it so desperately needs”.

The 'curry colleges' established to tackle this will go someway to meeting demand, but they will take time to produce the talented individuals that businesses are in need of now.

However, it isn't just business that is being hit. Foreign students contribute around £8 billion a year to the higher education sector either directly or indirectly. Changes to UK immigration regulations that restrict their chances to work during and after study is sending out a message to foreign students that “Britain does not want you”. This is exemplified in the UK Border Agency's decision to remove the London Metropolitan University's ability to sponsor UK visas for foreign students, the Lord noted.

These trends pose a long-term risk to the economic growth of the country, which could well be hampered if businesses don't have access to the talented individuals they need.

However, immigration minister Mark Harper has since argued that this is not the case. Responding to the criticisms from Lord Bilimoria, Mr Harper claimed that the country is “very much open for business”, adding that the cap on UK work permits for skilled employees is “not anywhere near being reached”.