Employers in the UK are showing increased demand for migrant workers in the last quarter of this year as the private sector labour market improves, CIPD figures show.

The study on skills, migration and offshoring in the latest quarterly CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook (LMO) report shows that more than one in five (22 per cent) employers in the private sector intend to recruit migrant workers in the fourth quarter of 2010 – its highest level since the LMO started tracking baseline migration data in the summer of last year.

Demand for migrant labour in the public sector is relatively low at 9 per cent. Skilled positions, such as IT, finance and engineers, make up the biggest area of demand and more than half of the migrant workers will be recruited from outside the European Economic Area (EEA).

Furthermore, almost one in five (16 per cent) private-sector companies plan to offshore jobs in the 12 months to September 2011, with India the most popular destination.

The findings come as the government revealed a cap on skilled migrant visas of 21,700 per year, but gave an exemption to intra-company transfers of staff earning more than £40,000. While the Tier 1 general visa route was dramatically trimmed, there was an increase in the annual limit of Tier 2 visas, typically granted when an employer has made a job offer.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser and author of the CIPD’s report, said: “The survey vindicates the government’s sensible compromise to make intra-company transfer scheme exemptions and to increase the number of visas given to employers that have made a job offer.

”The announcement reflects the fact that there needs to be a phased, long-term reduction to immigration alongside an investment in the skills that employers are telling us are lacking in the UK jobs market, in order to boost home-grown talent. There is no doubt that a smaller question mark still hangs over employers’ ability to recruit the best people for skilled positions in the short-term”.