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UK migrant cap to boost job export

Employers’ groups are calling on the UK government to rethink its immigration cap as figures on Sunday reveal that almost one in 10 private sector companies plan to relocate jobs abroad in the next year —and mostly to India.

world Updated: Aug 22, 2010 23:40 IST
GNS

Employers’ groups are calling on the UK government to rethink its immigration cap as figures on Sunday reveal that almost one in 10 private sector companies plan to relocate jobs abroad in the next year —and mostly to India.

Companies are looking to export call-centre, IT and finance jobs, according to a study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the accounting giant KPMG.

Two-thirds of those putting work offshore intend to take jobs to India, a third to China and three out of 10 to eastern Europe. The CIPD warns that more jobs are being sent offshore, and that an immigration cap, imposed too quickly, could have a “devastating” impact on the economy.

Today’s research suggests that fears of a dramatic decline in the skills of British graduates and school-leavers are driving employers to look abroad. Of those questioned, 42% felt the literacy skills of British graduates had fallen over the past five years, compared with just 6% who said they had improved. For numeracy the corresponding figures were 35% and 5%, and for communication and interpersonal skills 34% and 19%. There was a similar pattern when it came to British school-leavers.

Many firms are also looking to recruit from abroad, with one in six saying they will bring in migrant workers in the third quarter of this year.

Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at CIPD and author of the report, said the government faced a “complex juggling act”. “The proposed introduction of a migration cap comes at a time when many employers are still struggling to fill skilled vacancies despite the high unemployment rate,” he added. “The training of local or British workers to fill skilled jobs currently occupied by migrant workers will not happen overnight.”

He argued that the current points-based system for immigration, which stops low-skilled workers coming to Britain, is working, and warned that a radical cap imposed too quickly could “choke off” the economic recovery. “It could potentially cut off a labour supply and impede growth in UK companies, which will be devastating given that the government’s hopes for reducing unemployment hinge solely on the private sector growing jobs,” Davies added.