A leading businessman has urged the government and opposition politicians to carefully consider their approach to UK work permits and ensure that it does not close the door to talented immigrants who might otherwise be of benefit to the British economy.
Writing for the Evening Standard, Chris Hirst, chief executive of leading advertising agency, WPP's Grey London, claimed that if Prime Minister David Cameron is serious about the sentiment expressed during his conference speech this week, in which he said that Britain is “a land of opportunity”, then the country “must take a new approach to immigration”.
Mr Hirst went so far as to suggest that at the moment politicians are putting “fundamental barriers in the way” of business in Britain. His comment reflects ongoing criticism of the government's approach to not only restricting UK work permits for skilled workers, but also discouraging talented students by making it harder to obtain visas for study.
The chief executive explained that the country is operating against global competitors, making it essential that British businesses have access to the most skilled employees possible: “We produce global solutions for global brands - so we need to be able to hire and attract a workforce that can deliver them. Creativity is about the collision of cultures. Influences from outside the EU make us stronger.”
Unfortunately, as Mr Hirst mentioned, UK immigration has become something of a popularity issue of late and opening the door to overseas workers is not seen as a “short-term, vote-winning view”. But the UK, and, as the advertising professional noted, London in particular, “needs to be open to global business”. He concluded: “For London top thrive, we must ensure we win the battle for global talent.”