Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to create thousands more jobs for British workers by reducing the number of skilled occupations that are open to foreign workers on the official shortage list.
In his first major speech on immigration since February 2008, the Prime Minister, who faces a tough General Election battle in 2010, focused on the importance of getting British workers rather than migrant workers to fill skills gaps where possible.
Mr Brown emphasised that migrants must “accept the responsibilities that come with living in the United Kingdom – obeying the law, speaking English, and making a contribution”.
He also talked about new measures to tighten entry under the points-based system.
As part of the recently introduced points based system, the government created the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), to advise on where skill shortages existed which could be filled by overseas workers.
Gordon Brown now appears to be instructing MAC to remove jobs, independently assessed as “shortage occupations”, from the official list in order to create British jobs for British workers.
The occupations only appear on the shortage list, last updated on 21 October 2009, because the independent body has carried out sector based research and found that employers are unable to fill those posts from the resident and EU labour force.
The Institution of Civil Engineers warned that limiting employers’ access to skilled workers from outside the EU could delay progress on major projects like the Government’s planned new generation of nuclear power stations.
Cutting the shortage occupations list does not remove the vacancy, which an employer would much rather fill from the local work force.
Employers look to overseas workers because they cannot fill the vacancy locally, not the other around, or because the skills are in short supply.
If Gordon Brown wants more jobs for “British workers”, perhaps he should do something about large UK corporations, including state owned banks, ‘exporting’ hundreds of thousands of jobs to overseas call centres and back offices?
Companies which earn their profits in the UK should have some ‘corporate responsibility’ to its own workers and the country at large.
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