The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has outlined proposals to compel employers to give priority to British workers over foreign labour.
This is part of a plan to crackdown on foreign workers and students to reduce net migration.
Under Ms Rudd’s proposals, employers would be required to disclose what percentage of their workforce is international. Employers would need to establish what steps they have taken to promote a pool of local talent and set out what effect they expect foreign recruitment to have on the local workforce.
Ms Rudd said the government wanted to examine whether the UK’s immigration system provides the right encouragement for companies to invest in the training required for local workers. In particular, they would study whether it was necessary to tighten the ‘resident labour market test’. As it currently stands, a company must advertise the role locally for 28 days before being able to recruit a worker internationally.
The proposals have not been well received by employer groups. There are concerns that the plans would add hurdles and restrictions on employers when accessing highly trained and skilled workers.
Recent research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills found there were 209,000 reported skill-shortage vacancies in 2015. This represents a rise of 43% from the 146,000 reported in 2013. According to this research, the most common skills that employers found lacking among their current employees were people and personal skills, especially managing workloads and working in teams. They also found a lack in specialist, job-specific and complex analytical skills.
The Home Secretary has shrugged off the criticism, stating that this proposal is a tool to push employers to have a more skilled local labour force.