UK manufacturing bosses hit out at government on immigration

UK BorderUK manufacturing sector bosses today accused the government of acting unreasonably in restricting employers’ access to skilled graduates from outside of Europe.

In a submission of evidence to the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee inquiry into international STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students, the manufacturers’ organisation EEF argued that Government is acting unreasonably in restricting employers’ ability to access skilled non-EEA graduates.

EEF criticises the Government’s decision to abolish the so-called Tier 1 post-study work route, arguing that this decision is restricting employers’ ability to attract vital STEM graduates from outside of Europe, many of whom were left with no choice but to leave the UK after completing their studies.

It further argues that the process of recruiting international graduates is time-consuming and burdensome, further hampering employers’ efforts to bring new international talent into their companies.

EEF’s evidence says a quarter of manufacturers have recruited a non-EEA graduate in the past three years and one in ten plan to do so in the next three years. Four in ten companies had difficulties securing a sponsorship licence when recruiting a non-EEA student and almost a half had difficulties obtaining a visa for their non-EEA graduate employee.

Tim Thomas, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at EEF, said: “Manufacturers rely on the recruitment of non-EEA graduates to meet their skills needs, particularly those that hold degrees in the sciences, technologies, engineering and maths (STEM). Government policy should not unreasonably restrict employers’ ability to access this talent pool; however industry fears that current migration policy is doing just that.

“Government should promote the value of international graduates, just as employers do. It should restore the Tier 1 post-study work route, or, introduce a route which allows international STEM graduates to stay in the UK after their studies to occupy hard-to-fill roles in industries such as manufacturing. Government must work harder to remove the hurdles employers face when recruiting international graduates, giving businesses simple, easy access to skills they desperately need”

Copyright Ken Hurst 2014

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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