The new head of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has added her support to calls for an easing on UK visa restrictions to allow more skilled workers from outside the EU to work in Britain.
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn has called for more to be done to help mid-sized businesses bring the skilled staff they need into Britain from their overseas offices.
She said that the cap on the number of skilled workers able to enter the UK via the Tier 2 visa route should be increased.
Currently, no more than 20,700 workers can obtain UK visas under the Tier 2 process. There are monthly quotas for the scheme which have been hit every month since June this year, when the total was reached in 11 days.
Ms Fairbairn believes the trend shows that British businesses need more skilled international staff to achieve their potential.
Her call for an easing of the Tier 2 visa system is part of her wider demands for more support for the UK’s mid-sized companies. She said that while small start-ups and large businesses generate the most attention, middle-sized firms are being ignored, to the cost of the wider economy.
She told CBI members at the organisation’s mid-sized business conference: “The ‘missing link’ is the most interesting part. It’s the part where entrepreneurs grow their great idea. Where they increase their profit, hire more people and expand beyond national borders.”
Ms Fairbairn is the first female leader of the business lobby group and will be in post for five years, during the crucial period of the UK’s EU membership vote.
She has already expressed her support for the UK’s continued membership of the EU but said she would continue to consult with the group’s members over the body’s official stance on the issue.