A former Conservative Cabinet Minister is urging the Government to introduce a UK visa system similar to the one used in Australia to ensure skilled overseas workers can come to Britain.
Liam Fox said a points-based system would make sure that enough skilled people were allowed into the UK to work and would help to avert a potential skills crisis that could result from ageing key staff retiring.
The former Defence Secretary said that although he supports Prime Minister David Cameron’s aim of reducing net migration, setting a target on numbers is too simplistic an approach, The Western Daily Press reported.
Mr Fox told a meeting of the Reform think-tank: "UK immigration policy needs to be rebalanced so that those who come to our country are usefully economically active.
"There is neither the public appetite nor an economic case for allowing immigrants to come to the UK who will simply absorb our national wealth rather than helping to create it. We must develop policy that ensures that we are not turning away workers we need."
He is concerned that the UK will be unable to fill the 1.25 million jobs expected to be generated by the economy by 2020 from domestic labour alone. A high proportion of these jobs are forecast to be highly skilled roles.
Mr Fox advocated a strict points-based system similar to Australia to decide whether people coming into the UK from outside of EU would economically benefit the country.
"The whole debate on immigration in Britain has been too much about numbers – how many people are coming in – and not enough about who is coming," he added.