Earlier this week, it was announced that new UK immigration measures will be introduced by the government to "ensure the UK economy remains strong and skilled migrants who are offered positions in the UK fill genuinely needed skills shortages".
The changes mean that, starting from next year, all jobs must be advertised to British workers in Jobcentre Plus for four weeks before companies can seek to employ individuals from outside Europe; an increase of two weeks on the previous requirement.
While the changes are part of a wider overhaul designed to improve the UK's ability to quickly adjust the immigration stream according to changing economic circumstances, I have a few concerns that this new rule will do just the opposite.
The immediate effect that I can assume the Home Office is anticipating is that UK employers will be forced to invest far more time and effort in trying to find skilled candidates from within the resident labour market, as opposed to directly sourcing workers from abroad.
However, the rigid nature of the changes means that even employers looking for very specific workers will still have to go through the 4 week recruitment process. If an employer already knows that workers with a certain skill-set are not available locally, the new requirements will just cost the employer and result in the vacancy remaining unfilled for longer.
The impact of this new legislation on a company could be significant, as they will be forced to delay a new hire for the sake of a formality. In an already unstable and unsure economy, this seems counter-productive to the needs of many British businesses.
The best advice I can give for UK businesses looking to hire non-British workers is to ensure that they have every other aspect of the migration process set and ready, to best avoid any delays.
The first step for a work permit sponsor should be that they have their employer sponsorship licence in place, as without this, a UK company is unable to hire workers from outside the EU.
- Marissa Murdock is Casework Department Manager for the UK Visa Bureau.
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