Employers should be forced to raise the minimum pay offered to migrant workers from outside the European Union, according to the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee.
The MAC is also calling for some occupations involved in the delivery of ‘key’ public services to gain greater weighting under the new Points Based System introduced in 2008.
The Migration Advisory Committee did not propose any changes to the current list of shortage occupations – including children’s social workers and senior carers – that recognises shortfalls in the UK labour market and assumes local supply cannot meet demand.
But it is calling for posts not on the list to be advertised locally for four weeks instead of the current two before being deemed unfillable and thrown open to non-EU workers.
The proposals are expected to reduce demand for migrant workers by around 10%, based on current patterns, which anticipate an influx of around 50,000 non-EU workers in the year to November.
Under them, the minimum wage for skilled migrant workers would be £20,000 rather than £17,000 a year.
For workers without qualifications, a higher minimum earnings bar of £32,000 a year is recommended, effectively forcing employers to have strong reasons to bring in particular workers.
Committee chair Prof David Metcalf said the first analysis of tier two of the Points Based System showed that it appeared to be working well, but that the labour market “could be helped” by requiring higher standards from skilled migrant workers.
“We believe that selective immigration that favours skilled workers as the PBS does is vital to ensure that the UK continues to be a good place to do business or invest,” he said.
“However it is important that British workers are not displaced.”