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Britain needs non EU engineers

Professor Hobbs (NCE 11 April) believes that the decision, following lobbying of the government by Association of Consulting Engineers, to relax the work permit requirements for non EU engineers is bad news for the profession. He describes it as 'facilitating the entry of cheap labour to the profession'.

Work permits have long been available for non EU nationals but the bureaucracy has meant that it could take nine months or so to obtain one. Work permits are sought by British firms for engineers already recruited by the firm. The engineers employed are protected by the equal pay legislation and there is no evidence to suggest that they are any more 'cheap labour' than British engineers who work overseas.

The reality is that, with a fall of more than 50% in applications for civil engineering courses in the past seven or eight years, unless British firms are allowed to recruit from non EU countries, they will lose work to international competitors.

Nicholas Bennett, chief executive, ACE nbennett@acenet.co.uk

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