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Offshoring and migrants plug UK talent gaps, says CIPD

Posted on Aug 22 2010
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According to the survey of 600 employers, organisations are finding it difficult to recruit skilled people from the UK as the economic situation improves.
Employers, who were asked about the market for skills, migration and offshoring, said demand for migrant workers increased in line with the UK labour market recovery during the past year.
Almost half (45 per cent) of those surveyed reported having vacancies that were hard to fill, with 21 per cent saying they were recruiting migrant workers for engineering vacancies, and 18 per cent for IT and accountancy/finance positions. 
As a result, 17 per cent of employers said they intended to recruit migrant workers in the third quarter of 2010. In the past three months, 21 per cent of employers surveyed recruited migrant workers. Of these workers, 37 per cent were recruited from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), while over half the migrant workers hired by the financial sector came from outside the EEA.
The survey’s findings also point to greater offshoring activity. Nearly one in 10 private-sector companies plans to offshore UK jobs in the 12 months to June 2011. Of those planning to do this, 65 per cent intend to offshore to India, 36 per cent to China and 29 per cent to Eastern Europe. 
The functions most commonly outsourced by employers include call centres (55 per cent), IT (51 per cent), and finance (49 per cent).
Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser, said: “The study highlights the complex juggling act the government now faces. The proposed introduction of a migration cap comes at a time when many employers are still struggling to fill skilled vacancies, despite the high unemployment rate.
“The training of local or British workers to fill skilled jobs currently occupied by migrant workers will not happen overnight,” he said.
Davies said if a cap was introduced it should be “phased in gradually” to protect UK competitiveness. “Employers running global operations will be forced to offshore skilled jobs to other countries if the right skills mix in the UK cannot be found,” he warned. 
Malcolm Edge, KPMG UK head of markets, added: “Our own research shows that UK businesses are increasingly optimistic about their prospects. But businesses need the right people with the right skills. Increasingly they are looking overseas to address this skills gap, either recruiting people to the UK or deciding to offshore both work and jobs.”
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