The latest from the Black Country 

Immigration Skills Charge is Bad News for Business with Skills Shortages

KeithBryan2016Commenting on the ministerial response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Tier 2 review, Keith Bryan, CEO of the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said:

“We are very disappointed that the government has accepted the recommendation to introduce the Immigration Skills Charge, and other measures from the Migration Advisory Committee. These measures are bad news for business and will damage the UK’s reputation as a global business hub. Businesses are reporting severe recruitment difficulties, especially for highly-skilled and specialised positions, and it makes no sense to apply new charges on firms that need to recruit from overseas – often because they are left with little alternative due to the skills gaps here at home. The government must now consider how the Surcharge interacts with other policies, particularly as businesses face so many upfront costs already, such as the apprenticeship levy, pension auto-enrolment, and the national living wage.

“Even yesterday the Manufacturers organisation, The EEF, reported that 73% of manufacturers found it difficult to recruit skilled workers in the last three years. They are challenged by both the quantity and quality of candidates, with firms regularly forced to contend with a lack of technical skills (67%), an insufficient number of applicants (64%) and a lack of relevant experience (61%). At the same time, Government statistics show that the number of ‘hard-to-fill’ vacancies in manufacturing remain stubbornly high at 35% - unchanged from 2013 and worse than in 2011 when it was at 30%. The EEF has said the situation was set to deteriorate even further as manufacturers expected a significant increase in their own demand for skilled workers over the next three years. Almost 60% expect to need more people management, leadership (59%) and production-related technical skills (59%) over the next three years alone.

“The EEF has reported that firms are looking to overcome their skills challenges by offering a number of incentives to attract and retain highly-skilled employees. These include competitive salaries (84%), training (50%), opportunities to work in other areas of the business (49%) and flexible working (43%). 79% plan to recruit manufacturing and engineering apprentices in the next 12 months. Manufacturers continue to struggle to find the right people with the right skills – undoubtedly this has led to lost opportunities for employers, would-be employees and the UK economy. The situation would be even worse if our business leaders had not been able to recruit from abroad.

“Our own Black Country Business Indicator shows that 82% of Black Country manufacturers either grew their workforce over the last three months or it remained constant. The prediction for the next three months is 88%. 55% have reported that they are recruiting with the same percentage saying that they are having problems – nearly half in recruiting skilled people and nearly a quarter in recruiting professional and managerial employees. With 90% of our manufacturers telling us that investment in training had either gone up or had remained constant, businesses are expressing considerable concern.

“Unfortunately the Migration Advisory Committee’s Tier 2 review has resulted in another burden for business and comes hard on the heels of a budget supposedly aiming to reduce the taxation demands on businesses. Every one of our manufacturers would like to recruit locally but in the absence of skilled people, our businesses want to be able to source talent from anywhere in the world.”

Find out more about the latest Black Country Business Indicator results at our event:
Economic Business Breakfast Forum
Tuesday 26th April
7.30am to 9am
Park Inn Birmingham West M5 Jct 1, West Bromwich, B70 6RS

Last modified on Wednesday, 30 March 2016 09:42

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