Could improved UK work permit access solve skills shortages?

21 Aug 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The engineering sector is facing a serious shortage of skilled employees at the moment, as it struggles to find its way out of the recession.

At the same time, the government has been busy tightening up its UK work permit application processes, reducing the number of people who can come to the country to work in a new job and increasing the restrictions imposed on those who are coming to the UK on an Intra Company Transfer.

The restrictions could prove particularly problematic as the sector is finally looking to grow following months of economic difficulties. In fact, figures from the Institute of Engineering and Technology show that 58 per cent of companies plan to recruit in the coming 12 months, compared with just 36 per cent who were in this position last year.

Unfortunately, these employers are struggling to find the right people. Ben Taylor, assistant chief executive at metrology company Renishaw, explained that the firm is struggling to find suitable candidates for job candidates.

Mr Taylor told the Gloucesteshire Echo: “The biggest challenge that we face is to find experienced people with the specialist engineering skills that we require to drive our business forward.”

He also called upon the government to “create the right environment by continuing to give a positive message about engineering”.

Renishaw is forming links with education establishments in a bid to inspire more people to take an interest in the sector. GE Aviation is taking similar action as site leader Alan Jones told the paper: “We have worked with our local schools on various science and technology projects for many years and will continue to invest in this area.”

While programmes organised with schools and colleges will help increase candidate quality in time, businesses are left struggling with the here and now. Looking carefully at the UK immigration system and seeking overseas employees might be one way of dealing with this problem.