The number of occupations available to skilled workers coming to the UK from outside the EU should be cut by more than a third, a government-appointed panel has recommended.
The Migration Advisory Committee proposed that the list of eligible jobs should be reduced to 121 from 192, which would result in the exclusion of hairdressers, science technicians and estate agents. Nurses, teachers, civil engineers and financial analysts would still qualify, however.
Under the proposals, the threshold for Tier 2 skilled worker visas under the points-based immigration system would be raised to ‘graduate level’. Eligibility would be based on pay and qualifications, but would take no account of experience, however.
Based on last year’s immigration figures, 10,000 fewer migrant workers would be allowed to enter the country, the Committee said. The recommendations are intended to help the coalition government meet its election pledge of cutting net migration from around 200,000 to less than 100,000 by 2015.
Professor David Metcalf, MAC’s chairman said: “Skilled foreign workers make a valuable contribution to the British economy but, in the context of limits on migration, it is essential that the immigration system is designed to select those migrants we need the most. We have recognised this by ensuring our recommendations will allow the most skilled to continue to come and work here.”
Immigration Minister Damian Green continued that the move was necessary to allow firms to bring in the skills they required without “immigration becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs”.
“As part of our package for limiting non-EU economic migration, we are raising the minimum skill level at which people can come to work in the UK under Tier Two,” he added. “We asked the Migration Advisory Committee to advise the government on graduate level occupations to ensure that only those who are able to fill skilled jobs can come to the UK.”
Green is currently reviewing the Committee’s recommendations. But Adam Marshall, policy director at the British Chambers of Commerce, urged him to keep the immigration system flexible enough to meet business needs.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Business has no problem with tighter eligibility criteria, but new restrictions on immigration must not undermine the ability of UK firms to access the right skills as and when we need them. An inflexible system could harm business growth.”