UK business leaders call for lax immigration rules

The UK's North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) have called for a relaxation of UK immigration controls in the North East region arguing that businesses are being held back by a lack of skilled labour.

NECC is a business organization in the UK that represents more than 4,000 companies in the North East of England. They are seeking changes in UK immigration legislation that takes into account regional labour market needs and available skills. This follows a study they conducted which shows the importance of foreign workers to large businesses in the region. The NECC Workforce Survey said that many businesses with more than 50 employees are reliant on overseas workers.

"With unemployment expected to peak in 2012, business is expected to play its part in creating growth and jobs. The research shows that many firms are unable to find the skilled workers they need in the UK," said NECC chief executive James Ramsbotham.

The survey shows that businesses wishing to expand and grow their workforce have become frustrated by a lack of skilled labour in the region and therefore have had little choice but to recruit overseas workers. The survey also revealed that less than a third of businesses in the region believe that the UK workforce is more skilled than other EU countries and that almost half of firms with more than 50 staff employ some migrant workers.

"It is vital that we improve skills in the North East to meet the needs of business, but this will take time and firms need the freedom to bring the best people into the region's workforce rather than lose out to competitors elsewhere. For some, hiring workers from overseas allows them to access the skills they need," added Ramsbotham.

The chamber added that the UK immigration's agenda to reduce net migration is "of particular concern".

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