Industry shake-up 'could push out UK workers'
By Christopher Hope,
Home Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:23am GMT 04/01/2008
Thousands of British lawyers and accountants could lose out in the job market to rivals from developing countries under plans to relax rules on how well-paid white-collar jobs in Britain are filled, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.
From July, employers will no longer have to advertise British jobs offering salaries of over 40,000 a year in the UK before they make the posts available to workers outside the European Union.
The proposed removal of the Resident Labour Market Test for high-end vacancies has prompted fears that it could trigger an influx of white collar immigrants coming to work in the UK, undercutting British graduates.
Companies could ditch their training schemes and scour the developing world to pick up highly-qualified IT technicians, lawyers or accountants on the cheap, pushing out qualified British workers.
The news comes just days after Richard Lambert, the head of the Confederation of British Industry, warned that employers are increasingly looking to hire staff from overseas because of the poor quality of home-grown graduates.
Under the Resident Labour Market Test, companies currently have to advertise all of their jobs within the EU for a set period of weeks before offering them to people from outside the EU.
However, under new plans to be introduced later this year as a result of a shake-up of the Government's immigration policy, the requirement will not apply to well-paid jobs.
The salary threshold is likely to be decided over the next three months. However, The Daily Telegraph understands that a working figure is 40,000 a year.
According to a Whitehall paper, officials want to limit the scope of the test to lower-paid jobs “since it is here that there is most public concern about the impact of migrant labour on the domestic labour market”.
Recent figures showed that more than half of the 1.6 million jobs created since Labour came to power in 1997 have gone to foreigners.
The Conservatives said the change to the rules was at odds with Gordon Brown's pledge at the TUC conference in September that he wanted to promote British jobs for British workers.
James Clappison, the Tory MP who uncovered the plans, said: “This plan allows employers to bypass British workers. The question the Government must answer is, how does this help British workers to get British jobs?”
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