Restrictions on issuing UK work permits should be relaxed for skilled workers to tackle a looming skills crisis, according to recruiters.
The number of skilled people available for roles in medical and care, engineering and the construction industry continued to fall in February, while vacancies jumped to almost their highest level in 15 years, a report has revealed.
The figures were gathered from a poll of 400 job agencies by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
Kevin Green, REC chief executive, told the Financial Times: “Negative rhetoric on immigration from politicians fails to consider the immediate needs of British businesses. The Government must address the restrictions on visas for highly skilled workers. This would allow businesses to access the people they need to grow and create jobs for more British workers.”
The report found that businesses struggling with a gap in skills have been left unsure whether they will be permitted to recruit overseas workers.
The Government’s first tier classification for giving the green light to work in the UK is only applicable to entrepreneurs and investors. Companies looking for skilled IT staff or engineers now face lengthy campaigns to obtain UK work permits for their preferred candidates. In addition, students can no longer stay on in the UK to work on post-study visas.
Mr Green called for the Government to broaden the remit of the shortage occupation list, which permits the fast-tracking of workers with key skills, to include more engineering and technology sectors.