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Hiring overseas employees goes hand-in-hand with training British workers

27 Nov 2015

IoD calls for Comprehensive Immigration Review and reminds politicians that businesses need access to international talent

The Institute of Directors has responded to official statistics which showed net migration running at 336,000 in the year to June 2015, and re-iterated calls for a Comprehensive Immigration Review to set out a way to manage inward migration in a manner which works for businesses and addresses public concerns.

In a new survey of 1,085 IoD members, more than half (51%) said they employed people from outside the UK. Of those, nine in ten (88%) said they also invested in training native British workers, demonstrating businesses need migrants to fill the skills gaps they face now, while they are also investing to prepare British workers for the future. Full results below.

Simon Walker, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said:

“The bluster around these latest immigration statistics proves, once more, that Britain’s immigration system is not fit for purpose. Businesses find it restrictive, burdensome and crude. The public worry that new arrivals place pressure on schools, hospitals and communities. And the government is obsessed with the numbers game – chasing an arbitrary net migration target which made a good sound bite but has no basis in logic.

“The business community finds itself caught in the middle. More than half of all IoD members hire staff from overseas. They do so because they are the right people for the job, because they fill gaping skills shortages, and because they build international links. Yet, firms that hire from abroad are accused of undercutting wages and not doing enough to train young Britons. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Nine in ten IoD members that hire international workers also invest in training British staff, demonstrating a commitment to find a sustainable long-term solution to the UK’s chronic skills shortage. In the shouting match which seems to count for a sensible debate on immigration, these facts get lost.”

“To address this, we need a Comprehensive Immigration Review to look at the best ways of managing migration so it works for businesses and addresses public concerns. The bizarre net migration target should be the first for the chop. It counts international students who stay for a few years, returning Britons, asylum seekers fleeing conflict, and long-term economic migrants as all the same. Above all, politicians must watch their words. Anti-immigrant rhetoric sends a depressing message about Britain’s openness to the world, puts off investment, damages our international standing and encourages foreign students and high-skilled workers to head to our global competitors.”

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