London: The annual limit on hiring skilled workers from India and other non-European Union nations is already hampering the ability of British employers to fill key positions, according to a new industry study.
The temporary cap on recruiting non-EU workers is currently in place, and is due to be replaced by a permanent cap of 21,700 non-EU workers from April 6. The cap is part of the David Cameron government`s efforts to curb immigration.
However, the study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) with consultants KPMG has found that the demand for migrant workers has increased despite rising levels of unemployment in Britain.
The study reveals that 17 percent of UK employers, including the National Health Service, have been prevented from recruiting non-EU migrant workers due to the temporary cap.
The employers are particularly struggling to fill vacancies in engineering, accountancy, IT and nursing from within the British and EU workforces, the study says.
As many as 43 percent of the 759 employers surveyed report that they are struggling to fill vacancies from within the UK/EU, with 23 percent saying they are recruiting non-EU migrant workers for engineering vacancies, 15 percent for IT positions and 7 percent for both nursing and accountancy/finance positions.
Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser and author of the report, said: "The introduction of the temporary cap has had an impact on employers` ability to fill vacancies and improve productivity, particularly in the NHS.
It remains questionable whether the increase in the number of employer-related visas issued by the government for the next year will be enough to address the projected increase in the demand for migrant workers".
He added: "We should not forget that the UK still has skills shortages in many key areas, nor should we forget that the number of non-EU workers amounts to the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of thousands.
So while it is right to highlight our concern about rising unemployment, we should not overlook the benefits and invaluable expertise and experience that a relatively small number of non-EU workers bring to the UK economy.
Keeping out skilled non-EU workers won`t help unemployed people in the UK in the near term, but could have real and negative consequences for business and the public sector".