Elite status essential if the UK is to attract top quality engineers.
The ICE has urged government to think carefully about what professions should be considered as “people of exceptional talent” in the tier one economic migration regulations.
Responding to last week’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on the proposed economic migration cap laid out by government earlier in the year, the ICE welcomed the acknowledgement of widespread concern from employers and industry alike that stringent cuts to the amount of highly skilled workers the UK can import could have detrimental effects on the economy in the future.
UK could struggle
The ICE made similar calls in its consultation response to MAC, warning that introducing a permanent cap could leave the UK struggling to deliver vital infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail, low carbon energy generation and the nuclear new build programme. It said the cap could also restrict the operations of UK companies working globally.
The proposals put forward last week by the committee would still limit non-EU workers coming into the UK, but on a lesser level than initially put forward. The report also proposes that tier one migration, for highly skilled professionals without job offers, should be subject to more stringent regulation.
ICE vice president and chair of the consultation committee Barry Clarke said there was a case for engineers to be given elite status and therefore eligibility under tier one migration.
“Civil engineering is a global profession and we must be able to attract the best talent”
“Highly specialised engineers working on niche projects, such as nuclear construction, could be considered as elite’ due to the specialised nature of their work. We would like to see these cases join the list of professional expertise that qualifies under tier one migration,” he said.
With £200bn investment in new and upgraded infrastructure needed in the next five years by the government’s own estimation, Clarke said being able to employ specialist workers from overseas, when they cannot be sourced domestically, is crucial.
National Infrastructure Plan
“The programme of work just recently outlined by the government in the National Infrastructure Plan is vital for our long-term economic vitality and low carbon goals, and will require many highly skilled engineers, some of which may need to be sourced from overseas.
“Civil engineering is a global profession and just as UK engineers will seek work overseas if they cannot find it here, we must be able to attract the best talent available from around the world to ensure we can deliver
world-class infrastructure for the future.”
He said, however, that addressing the skills gaps that exist and helping UK graduates into work underpinned this argument.
“The underlying factor remains the urgent need to continue to upskill our own workforce to ensure we have a world-class engineering profession equipped to deliver the challenges of the future both in the UK and overseas.”
He said the ICE has a dedicated programme of work aimed at attracting more young people into the profession, and was working closely with industry to encourage employers to continue to invest in skills development and graduate recruitment.