Shortage of skilled workers threatens to dent UK economic recovery

Immigration controls should be loosened to attract more skilled foreign workers to the UK, a report says.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 08 Nov 2013
A skills shortage is emerging in Britain’s oil and gas, energy, IT and construction industries where niche skills are in high demand, recruitment firm Hays has warned.

Hays called on the government must review its immigration policies to make them ‘more geared towards attracting skilled workers that are in short supply locally’, echoing Boris Johnson’s recent proposal for a ‘London visa’ to bring more talent into the capital.

The Hays Global Skills Index 2013, which analysed employment markets in 30 countries, concluded that only Spain, Portugal and Ireland have a greater talent mismatch in Europe.

Hays’ Chief Executive Alistair Cox said: ‘The pressure on the UK labour market is increasing. Too many skilled jobs are now going unfilled because the right skills are in increasingly short supply. This makes a real dent on a company’s ability to grow and constrains the UK’s economic prospects at a time when we need to be encouraging a sustained recovery.’

In the last year, the government has pledged a clampdown on the number of people coming into the UK. Immigration fell from 589,000 to 515,000 in the year to June, the lowest since 2003, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Mayor of London Boris Johnson recently said he was concerned about the ‘very weird situation’ of Australians and New Zealanders facing ‘all sorts of barriers’ to the UK, whereas citizens of the 28 EU countries are able to walk straight in.

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