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Engineers should join the jobs elite says the ICE

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”

Barry Clarke

“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.

Readers' comments (3)

  • The ICE is diluting its message by, as usual, demonstating a dichotomy between promoting elite status on one hand and on the other easing entry requirements to widen access (and increase subsciption income). Other elite professions are more careful to maintain standards and a degree of exclusivity. In the submission there appears to be confusion between specialists who will surely be earning £40k plus and the more general run of civil engineers.

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  • Now retired I had worked my last 20 years in a large International Company. The head Office is in U.S.A. but has many offices around the world. I worked under and had working for me Engineers of all disciplines from many and various global countries. I worked and lived in four of the five continents. Its largest base is in the U.K. with with major centres in the middle and far East. I cannot see how the Company could possibly be able to continue to prosper without the means of employing skilled Engineers from outside the E.U.We would lose a large contribution to our economyshould this happen.

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  • CHARLES ROBERTS

    Once again the ICE response to this is at odds with the interests of the overwhelming majority of its members. There is absolutely no need for any Tier One entry route for civil engineers from non-EU countries, where potential employees with "highly specialist" skills arrive in the UK without specific job offers. If UK employers can demonstrate that there is a shortage of such specialist skills for nuclear power stations, for example, they can recruit under Tier Two rules from overseas subject to the new government cap. How can any specialist skill for which there is a shortage command a salary of less than £40,000 per year?

    Peter Derek Emes need not worry. The Intra Company Transfer route - for which no limit is proposed - covers the situation he is concerned about, unless, horror of horrors, he is concerned that low level employees earning less than £24,000 per year [for visas of one year or less] or £40,000 per year [for longer term work visas] will not be available to multinational companies.

    The reality is that what ICE Vice President Barry Clarke appears to want is a pool of overseas engineers readily available under Tier One which do not require an employer to prove any shortage of skills whatsoever.

    Can we have a response from Prof Clarke and the ICE?

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