The managing director of the UK’s oldest estate agent recruitment consultancy has slammed a report which claims a cap on skilled migrants from outside the EU would not hamper the ability of British businesses to recruit.
The report by Migration Watch - a think-tank that operates as a private company, and which campaigns for lower immigration - accuses British businesses of crying wolf over the impact of a cap on Tier 2 work permits.
Applicants for Tier 2 permits are skilled workers who usually have to be sponsored before they can apply to come to the UK. Migration Watch claims that the existing annual limit on workers from outside the EU has in fact never been reached.
Rules introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary in 2010 limited the entry of skilled migrants from outside the EU to 20,700, each of which required a certificate of sponsorship supporting a visa application.
The Migration Watch report says that the number of available certificates has never exceeded this figure – apart from in 2015/16 when 22,037 certificates were issued, but almost 2,800 were returned unused or reclaimed, so again the cap was not reached.
Now the managing director of Property Personnel, Anthony Hesse, has hit out at the report’s claims.
“It’s true to say that the current cap isn’t being breached. But the authors of the Migration Watch study need to ask themselves why. The real reason is that the current restrictions are so high, employers are being prevented from applying in the first place. To use this problem as proof of a cap not hampering companies’ ability to recruit is a criticism which misfires on all cylinders.”
Hesse adds that the present system “means that employers have to go through a phenomenal amount of bureaucracy. Visa applications are typically 85 pages long, with employers having to answer over 100 questions about each prospective employee. Then Home Office officials have to consult 1,300 pages of instructions before deciding is a visa will be issued.”
Hesse instead says we should be easing the path for skilled migrants to help plug the UK skills gap, rather than making their life more difficult.
“So to claim a cap on numbers does British business no harm is to miss the point entirely” he insists.
Last month a senior builder, John Tutte of Redrow Homes, warned of problems caused by a possible post-Brexit skills shortage in the construction industry.