The sharp fall in the number of work-related visas in the past year offers further evidence that the current points-based system is working, says the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in response to the ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report. Figures show that the number of overseas nationals awarded work-related visas has fallen by (14%) in the past year to 161,000, down from 187,000.

In the context of current migration measures that are working, the CIPD argues that the abrupt introduction of a cap on skilled migration from outside the EU would have damaging effects on organisations looking to hire in areas where there is a UK skills shortage, such as engineering. Instead, the points-based system should continue, alongside an increased focus on developing UK talent in those areas where there is a skills shortage. This will gradually reduce net immigration in the long-term.

Gerwyn Davies, Public Policy Adviser, CIPD, comments, “Today’s figures offer further evidence that the points-based system is robust and working. The reality is that employers would rather not hire labour from outside the EU because it is costly and time-consuming, but many are forced to because of the skills shortages that still exist in the UK.

“Organisations are spending considerable sums of money trying to address this shortage, with training spend per employee averaging almost two thousand pounds per year. What’s more, the training needs of staff in shortage occupations is regulated by the Migration Advisory Committee, who can withdraw certain occupations from the shortage occupation list if they feel employers are not doing enough to train up staff – as they have done with the care sector. The idea therefore that employers are sitting on their hands is simply not true.

“The reality for employers is that training workers to plug the UK skills gap is a lengthy task. The abrupt introduction of a radical cap would therefore leave many employers with a bigger skills problem and tempt employers with global operations to offshore jobs, where they can find the skills.”