UK lobbyist says hiring immigrant workers to plug skills gaps is 'lazy'

Chris Ball, chief executive of The Age and Employment Network, has stated that UK companies who employ immigrant workers to fill skilled vacancies are 'lazy'. The Age and Employment Network is a n organisation that 'promotes an effective job market that serves the needs of people in mid and later life'.

Mr Ball says that the level of training in the UK is inadequate for the modern economy. He says 'skills scarcities are accelerating in some industries while in others we are burdened with a superabundance of people trained in skills we really don't need.'

Mr Ball says that UK employers have been 'fiddling while Rome burned' and have failed to train the staff they need. 'We can train as many hairdressers and people for the leisure industry as we like but they won't be able to fill the chronic shortages we have for technicians to do the crucial but sometimes dirty and demanding jobs in manufacturing and processing' he said, writing in The Daily Telegraph, a UK-based newspaper.

Alistair Cox, the chief executive of Hays, the global recruitment company, agrees with Mr Ball's diagnosis but not with his conclusions.

Hays has just published its Global Skills Index 2012, a report, compiled in collaboration with Oxford Economics, which analyses 27 economies worldwide and uncovers skills shortages and their effects on wages. Mr Cox told the Daily Telegraph that, because of skills shortages in the UK economy, the UK government should revise its draconian immigration policy to allow more skilled migration.

Mr Ball says that 'UK employers are so often tempted down this lazy road when another more sustainable solution is staring them in the face.' Mr Ball asks why older people are made redundant and not encouraged or retrained in other jobs but instead expected to retire – often on a poor pension.'

Mr Ball says that 23% of British men and 37% of British women aged between 50 and 64 are 'economically inactive'. Mr Ball says that German companies like Deutsche Bahn 'have opened training programmes to train older, unemployed people…to fill their skills gaps.'

However, Mr Ball concedes that some 'skilled migrants who are helping our economy in many areas are more than welcome' and Mr Cox calls not only for increased immigration in the short term but also for steps to be taken to improve training and to ensure that the skills acquired by those being trained are useful to the economy. It seems that both are in agreement, skills shortages are damaging the UK's economy.

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