Responding to the publication of the Government’s White Paper, The UK’s Future Skills-based Immigration System, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:
“The White Paper gives with one hand and takes away with the other. There are some useful proposals, such as removing the cap for high skilled visas and lowering the qualifications requirement to A-level or advanced apprenticeship, but the £30,000 salary threshold is still in there for consultation, which could affect around 60% of jobs at intermediate skills levels. We urge Ministers to listen to business and step back from this threshold. Fundamentally, it still seems that the Government’s immigration policy is being driven by the unattainable, distracting and economically illogical net migration target. Measures such as the new 12-month temporary visas do not change this.
“Context is everything here. Unemployment is near record lows, vacancies are at all-time highs and businesses are reporting skills shortages at all levels. There is both an absolute shortage of people available, which can’t be met by the domestic workforce, and specific gaps in areas that companies need to keep up with global competition. This is shown clearly in the fact that as EU migration has slowed, non-EU migration has risen to fill the need. Politicians cannot ignore the facts. The White Paper admits that the predicted fall in workers from Europe will cost the Exchequer up to £4 billion over the first five years.
“The Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee has found that migrants boost innovation and do not reduce training of UK workers. This is consistent with everything our members tell us – they simply want to find the right people to make their businesses better. The economy faces many challenges, both in the short and the long term, and none of them will be easier to address if we pull up the drawbridge. Trying to compete in an increasingly fractious global economy with an overly restrictive migration policy is like trying to run a marathon with your shoelaces tied together.”