UK work permits for engineers appear to on the rise

15 Oct 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

An increasingly large percentage of engineers in Britain are working in the country on a UK work permit, research suggests.

A survey from SJD Accountancy has revealed that the the number of engineers from outside the EU recruited by UK companies has increased by 36 per cent in the last year.

Official Home Office figures show that 1,171 engineers from non-EU countries entered the country in the past 12 months over the course of 2013 and 2014. This compares to just 859 in the same time period in 2012 and 2013 and represents the biggest increase in the percentage of overseas workers in the sector since the 2008 recession.

A number of reasons have been cited for the increase, but a skills shortage among UK workers is thought to be among the main contributing factors to the increase in overseas employees.

Simon Curry, chief executive officer of SJD, commented: “Skill shortages are an ongoing worry in the engineering sector, but despite widespread awareness of the severity of the issue, little progress is being made.”

He added: “These numbers show that investment in infrastructure, which the government has earmarked for significant expansion over the coming decades, is at risk if the UK is unable to match demand for engineering skills. Skill shortages cause delays and push up costs for contractors.”

Employing engineers from abroad on UK work permits is a great solution for negotiating the skills gap until the government can balance out requirements with education and training.

However, there are limits imposed on the number of UK work permits that can be issued each year, as well as minimum requirements in salary for the individual being employed. All of these difficulties can make it that bit harder for companies to negotiate the immigration system and bring the skilled workers they need in to the British economy, issues that have been prompting calls for a review of the system for some years now.