UK records increase in overseas employees

22 Aug 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

UK work permits appear to be popular as recent figures show a rise in the number of foreign-born workers employed in Britain.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures looked at the period covering the three months to March. The data revealed a rise of 278,000 in the number of foreign-born workers employed in the UK during this time period in comparison to the same three months last year, suggesting that overseas workers are still managing to access jobs in the UK in spite of the changes to the work permit system.

Meanwhile, the number of UK-born workers fell by almost 100,000, prompting the work and pension secretary to suggest that Britain needs to take action against its skills shortage. Iain Duncan Smith said that the government needs to deliver change in order to “reform a group that's progressively less able to do the work”.

Speaking to the Spectator, he added that the benefits system needs to be simplified and a greater emphasis on work incentives introduced in order to tackle the lack of enthusiasm around jobs and progression. Mr Duncan Smith argued that the last Conservative government worked to free up the markets but never managed to to deliver the changes to society necessary to compliment it.

“If anything tells you that [the societal changes are] not optional, look at the 2.5 million jobs created under Labour out of which at least 60 per cent went to foreign nationals," the secretary stated.

Last month Mr Duncan Smith called on British businesses to offer jobs to British workers first. However, his calls were put down by British businesses, which claimed that overseas workers are more diligent and have a better skill set than British workers. Many firms also expressed concern regarding the changes to the UK work permit system, worrying that they would no longer have access to the skills of overseas workers on which they have come to rely.