03 April 2009

UK skilled visa programme to support ageing population

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The UK skilled visa programme has been tipped to be the saviour of Britain's ageing population, reports The India Times.

According to the UK's largest recruitment firm, as skilled professionals begin to retire in their masses over the next decade, the UK skilled visa programme is going to be the most efficient way to fill their positions with skilled workers.  Training in sectors such as healthcare takes many years and relying on the younger generations to move quickly through the system has been deemed unrealistic.

While the UK Home Office has moved to reduce its immigration programme to protect the jobs of local workers during the recession, some are saying that after some time the UK skilled visa migration programme is going to have to re-open to allow more skilled workers to take over the retiring population.

Alistair Cox of Hays Recruitment said the UK Home Office would need to eventually remove employment and immigration restrictions to counterbalance the predicted 50 per cent of 1.3 million healthcare workers due to retire in the next 15 years. 

Over the past few months the government has introduced new measures to make it harder for skilled migrants to come to the UK, including changes to the Tier 1 skilled migration category that means that applicants need to have at least a Masters' degree and a minimum salary of £20,000 in order to qualify for a Tier 1 skilled migration visa.  Tier 3 (work permit category) has been suspended until further notice, and many countries have been removed from visa-waiver and working holiday programmes. 

"All workers now coming to the UK from outside Europe have to meet the requirements of the Australian-style points system, which allows us to raise or lower the bar on who can come here," Jacqui Smith, Home Secretary said in a statement.

"We have always said it is important to be selective about who comes here to work, and we have already put a stop to low-skilled labour entering the UK from outside Europe.  Just as in a growth period we needed migrants to support growth, it is right in a downturn to be more selective about the skill levels of those migrants, and to do more to put British workers first."


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