The Government is finding itself increasingly at odds with leading UK business groups over the issue of who should be allowed to work in the UK and how their numbers should be controlled.
Now the Institute of Directors (IoD) has stepped into the debate, setting out a 12-point plan for controlling migration in a way that will, it claims, support economic growth and benefit businesses.
In a new report, the IoD calls for a comprehensive immigration review which balances the needs of the economy (for more migrant workers in some sectors) with the will of the public, as expressed in the EU referendum vote, for less immigration.
The referendum result was, the IoD suggests, due in part to a lack of confidence in how successive governments have managed immigration. Despite those concerns, if the UK is to be an economic success outside the EU, then employers must be able to access the skilled workers they need, its report argues.
“Post-Brexit immigration policy: A system that supports economic growth, works for businesses, and addresses public concerns” (available at www.iod.com) states that, whatever new immigration policy is implemented, the public and private sectors must not be prevented from accessing the international workers that the UK needs.
Furthermore, ministers must recognise that there will be a trade-off between curtailing free movement and getting access to the Single Market, the IoD insists.
It also calls for certainty to be provided for employers that those EU immigrants already resident in the UK will be granted the right to remain. The current confusion is, the report says, preventing businesses from planning for the future.
At the same time, the IoD wants more emphasis put on training British workers to meet the needs of employers, with the education system equipping the workforce with the skills demanded by employers.