A new study puts the UK immigration system in seventh place for its ability to attract, develop and retain highly-skilled foreign workers. The Global Talent Competitiveness Index, a study carried out by the Adecco Group in partnership with international business school INSEAD and the Human Capital Leadership Institute, found that the UK had retained its 2014 place as the seventh most talent competitive nation in the world.
The report was published about the same time as the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) review into the UK's Tier 2 Visa system was published. The MAC recommends that the UK government should act to further restrict the Tier 2 Visa.
UK Immigration good at attracting foreign owned businesses
The Adecco study found that the UK also ranks fourth among nations most likely to attract foreign owned companies, while it was seventh on the list as the most likely to attract overseas students. However, the UK was way down the list for other factors, such as attracting female graduates for which it ranked 56th, while dropping further still for the gender earnings gap to 71st.
UK one of the best for attracting skilled migrants visa Tier 2 Visas scheme
The managing director of Adecco Group UK and Ireland, Alex Fleming, said: "The study highlights how Britain is one of the top nations in the world for attracting skilled migrants [through its Tier 2 immigration route], giving the country the skills it needs to continually develop a solid economy."
Mr Fleming added: "With the referendum on Britain's European Union membership on the horizon, the index gives policy makers and industry something to think about when it comes to the issue of labour mobility."
The Migration Advisory Committee Tier 2 Visa review
With the MAC's review now in the public domain, UK businesses face an anxious wait to see what new immigration restrictions will be brought in by the Home Office. The MAC review has made several recommendations to tighten the Tier 2 Visa route as part of Prime Minister, David Cameron's, plans to cut UK immigration numbers to the 'tens of thousands.'
Much of the MAC's focus has been aimed at increasing the Tier 2 Visa salary threshold for most jobs from £20,800 to £30,000; for entry level jobs it has been suggested that a lower threshold of £23,000 could be put in place for graduates. Plans for an immigration skills charge of £1,000 per year have also been put forward as part of the review, which it is claimed would incentivise UK employers to invest in training UK workers, rather than relying on foreign labour.
UK Immigration to become even more restrictive
The Tier 2 Intra-Company Transfer Visa has also come under attack by MAC', which one commentator described as 'deplorable.' Emeritus professor at University College London, Professor John Salt, said: "The ICT route has been one of the major successes for bringing in exceptional talent to the UK."
However, Professor Salt added: "The majority of Tier 2 Certificates of Sponsorship end up with people either working in IT or into IT-related jobs. The balance of skills coming into the UK economy has shifted and it is not very well-balanced at all now."
The decision of the government to target the Tier 2 Visa route has struck many businesses as bizarre, particularly because the Tier 2 Visa program accounts for such a small proportion of migration to the UK. In 2014, just 15,000 general Tier 2 Visas were issued, and 36,500 Tier 2 intra-company transfers issued. The combined total of 51,500 is a small percentage of overall UK immigration numbers.
Commenting on the UK's place in the talent competitiveness stakes, Professor Salt said: "Luxembourg, Singapore and Switzerland are relatively small countries with a global reach and by definition they are going to be importing skilled workers. The only one above the UK with a population of any size is the United States and, given the economy of the US, it is not surprising that they are up there."
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