From 1 April the Government will:
- Change the resident labour market test for tier 2 skilled jobs so that employers must advertise jobs to resident workers through JobCentre Plus before they can bring in a worker from outside Europe;
- Use each shortage occupation list to trigger skills reviews that focus on up-skilling resident workers for these occupations;
- Raise the qualifications and salary required for tier 1 of the PBS to a Master's degree and a minimum salary of £20,000.
The Home Secretary has also asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), to report on the following:
- whether there is an economic case for restricting tier 2 (skilled workers) to shortage occupations only;
- his assessment of the economic contribution made by the dependants of PBS migrants and their role in the labour market;
- what further changes there should be to the criteria for tier 1 in 2010/11, given the changing economic circumstances.
Jacqui Smith said:
"We have always said it is important to be selective about who comes here to work, and we have already put a stop to low-skilled labour entering the UK from outside Europe."
"Just as in a growth period we needed migrants to support growth, it is right in a downturn to be more selective about the skill levels of those migrants, and to do more to put British workers first."
"These measures are not about narrow protectionism - a flexible immigration system, rather than an arbitrary cap, is better for British business and the British economy. We recognise that migration continues to play an important role in the UK, at the same time as we are giving greater support to domestic workers so that we can all come through the recession stronger."
"Given the economic circumstances and the action we are taking to be more selective, I expect the number of migrants coming to the UK from outside the EEA to fall during the next financial year. Today I am also asking the independent Migration Advisory Committee, led by David Metcalf, to consider further changes to the way in which foreign workers are currently able to enter the UK to work."
"By being more selective, as well as through tough enforcement measures to tackle illegal immigration, I have tasked the UK Border Agency with delivering this reduction. I have also set out 10 further immigration milestones for the UK Border Agency to meet this year."