The CIPD and KPMG today release the migrant worker findings from their quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey, a week ahead of the ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report. The findings from the Labour Market Outlook survey show that the recession has not dampened employers’ enthusiasm for hiring migrant workers. Around one in five (19%) employers recruited migrant workers in the past three months, with public sector employers more likely to hire migrant workers than private sector employers (24% compared to 15%).

The survey of over 700 employers shows that employers are still reporting skills shortages. Around two in five (41%) employers have vacancies that are hard-to-fill. More than half of these vacancies are skills-related (52%); with engineer, doctor and nurse vacancies the most difficult to fill.

One in 10 private sector organisations also plan to outsource jobs abroad in the next 12 months, with almost half (44%) of IT companies and almost one in five (17%) of manufacturing companies planning to outsource employment abroad. The most popular destination for outsourced jobs are India and Eastern Europe. Among employers planning to outsource jobs overseas, more than half (51%) plan to relocate UK jobs to India and more than a third (37%) plan to shift jobs to Eastern Europe.

Gerwyn Davies, the report’s author and public policy adviser, CIPD, comments: “Despite rising unemployment, employers are still struggling to recruit the people they need and we are turning abroad to plug the gap. Through a combination of recruiting migrant workers to fill UK vacancies, or outsourcing work to locations abroad, employers are looking to strike the right balance between the skills for the job and the cost reductions needed to meet budget targets.

“To help minimise further outsourcing of jobs abroad, the government needs to do all it can to curb rising wage costs. A good start would be abandoning the national insurance contribution increase, planned for 2011, as well as enforcing a real-terms freeze on the National Minimum Wage for adults and an absolute freeze for younger workers between the ages of 16-21.”

Mark Williamson, advisory partner at KPMG, said: “It is critical for both business and Government that the skills gap is addressed. Finding people with the right skills can always be a challenge for businesses, recession or not. In order to really grasp the skills shortage issue, it is important that companies keep investment in learning & development programmes going and resist the urge to cut back too aggressively to save costs.

“Skills issues cannot be solved overnight – the key to success is in forging long-term partnerships between Government and employers to build the right skills base for UK plc.”

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