In a study
carried out on behalf of the Home Office’s Migration Advisory Committee, the
think-tank found that non-European Economic Area migrants employed in
strategically important sectors contribute disproportionately to the already
high levels of skilled employees.
Its evidence, based on research in the financial services and
aerospace sectors, also suggests that high-skilled migrants often possess
language skills and knowledge of foreign markets which are rarely found among
high-skilled residents. They also frequently make positive contributions to
innovation and productivity performance.
In interviews carried out with banks as part of the research,
actuarial skills were among the strategically important skills where employers
said they had experienced shortages.
This was principally because these skills were in short supply
rather than because of retention problems or poor strategic planning. Among the
reasons identified for this situation were a lack of high calibre UK graduates
in subjects such as mathematics, as well as difficulties in finding individuals
with the right combination of technical, language and cultural skills.
Last year, the MAC placed actuaries on its listof occupations where a shortage of labour meant it would be sensible to
fill posts from outside the EEA. A specific need was identified for qualified
actuaries to work in the life assurance, general assurance and health and care
In a statement on the research, the NIESR said: ‘Employers recruited
migrants from outside of the European Union (EU) to meet high level skill
needs, where these could not be met from within the UK or the EU.’
‘However, there was little evidence that they recruited migrants as an
alternative to investing in the recruitment and training of resident workers.
Rather, skilled migrants are required for skills that are hard to find or
develop in the UK.’
According to the NIESR, while employers and stakeholders acknowledged
there may be sme scope to reduce levels of non-EEA recruitment, this would
involve long-term, consistent investment in training. Changes in higher
education were also needed, they said.
But, they raised concerns over the impact of further restrictions on
skilled migrant workers, such as limits in intra-company transfers, which were
seen as bad for business and the UK economy.