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Highly skilled migrants vital to UK economy

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The Guardian is reporting on a study that says a record number of highly skilled migrants will contribute an estimated £77 billion to the UK economy over the next four years.

The report, compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), found that skilled migrants keep the British economy from lagging behind by filling key skills shortages. A majority of these migrants work in education, health care, and government services. These workers account for 2.5 percent of the nation's workforce.

The study forecasts that this number will rise to 2.8 percent by 2012, based on economic trends and estimated demands for professionals such as nurses and IT specialists.

By 2012, the study predicts, there will be 812,000 such migrants in the UK -- an increase of 14 percent over the 715,000 in the UK as of 2007.

Skilled migrants currently spend £8.4 billion on goods and services, and this number is expected to rise to £13 billion by 2012. This is on top of the £18 billion in other indirect support they provide to the British economy.

As demands increase for software and e-commerce specialists, the research expects an additional 19,000 highly skilled migrants will come to the UK in the next four years.

The report comes at a time when the UK is implementing a new five-tier points based immigration system to encompass all employment, student, and training based immigration into the country. Tier 1 for General Highly Skilled Migrants is expected to be fully implemented by summer of 2008.

Currently, non-European Union foreigners already in the UK who wish to stay in the country as a highly skilled migrant must apply under the new Tier 1 rules. Starting 01 April 2008, the new rules will come into effect for highly skilled applicants based in India. Sometime during the summer of 2008, the rest of the world will follow.