Tier 2 work permit rules 'could damage UK success'

11 Jul 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK's competitive edge could be damaged by the government's cap on Tier 2 work permits, introduced earlier this year.

Dr Richard Sykes, chair of the Outsourcing Group at tech trade body Intellect, is among those to have warned that restricting the flow of skilled technology professionals could prove damaging to the UK's business prospects.

Silicon reported Dr Sykes attendance at a conference on IT skills at City University's Cass Business School. "Of very great concern on my side is that the current efforts of this government to make it more and more difficult and restrictive [for skilled migrants to work in the UK] is not a good thing," he remarked.

The doctor noted that the country requires an "absolute policy" allowing the borders to remain open for qualified professionals "because that's the nature of the UK economy" rather than limiting this through a cap on work permits.

In April of this year the government finalised the cap on Tier 2 work permits and limited the number of skilled workers able to enter the country through this route to 20,700. While the Intra-company Transfer route remained uncapped, a number of limitations on sectors and salaries were introduced, prompting concern within the country's business community.

Dr Sykes is not the only person to speak out against the Tier 2 work permit cap. Earlier, the principal policy adviser at the Confederation of British Industry Guy Bailey told Silicon that evidence is already drifting through showing that the limit of work permits is having an effect.

"There's already some evidence that firms are starting to change their activities to account for the fact that it will be more difficult to bring non-European Economic Area workers into the UK in the future," said Mr Bailey

"Certainly we're seeing parts of businesses moving overseas, we're seeing graduate schemes being dispersed to other global hubs."