Firms still looking to hire migrants even as British job losses rocket
By Sam Fleming
Last updated at 11:53 AM on 12th August 2009
Companies are planning to hire more migrant workers even as Britain's jobless toll rises by almost 3,000 a day, a new survey shows.
Figures today reveal unemployment has increased by a further 220,000 to a 14-year high of 2.435million.
The number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance increased by 24,900 in July to 1.58 million – its worst level for more than 12 years, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
This marks the 17th month in a row where the so-called claimant count has increased in the UK.
There was further grim news from The Bank of England, which forecast today that the economy would shrink by around 5.5% at the lowest point this year before beginning its recovery.
The Bank's inflation report said the recession “appeared deeper than previously estimated” but pointed to “encouraging signs” that its unprecedented monetary stimulus was taking effect.
Displaying good skills: Companies are planning to hire migrant workers despite the increasing numbers of Britons out of work
Despite the jobless rise, nearly one firm in 12 aims to take on immigrants because they cannot find suitably qualified Britons, according to the report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and accountants KPMG.
The survey shows that 8 per cent of employers intend to recruit migrant workers in the third quarter of 2009.
Some bosses said this is because they find migrants more 'hardworking and reliable', while others said they tend to be better qualified.
This comes after official figures showed the number of non-UK nationals in employment increased in the first quarter of 2009 while the number of UK nationals fell.
The survey undermines controversial claims by Gordon Brown that he wants 'British jobs for British workers'.
The CIPD said Labour was failing to ensure that large sections of the British-born population have the right skills to compete in the jobs market. Gerwyn Davies, public policy adviser at the CIPD, said: 'The best way to provide “British jobs for British workers” is to make Brits better equipped to compete in the jobs market rather than raise barriers to skilled migrants.
'Most are recruited and retained by employers because they provide skills or attitudes to work in short supply among the homegrown workforce.'
Economist Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said the jobless pain will be particularly acute for young UK school and university leavers. He forecasts unemployment will peak at 3.2 million next year.
'Even if the economy does return to growth in the third quarter, activity is still unlikely to be strong enough for some considerable time to come to prevent further net job losses,' he said.
Lord Mandelson admitted that unemployment levels were “unacceptable” but the Business Secretary insisted that even more people would be out of work if the Tories had been in power during the recession.
The peer said: “One thing I and the Government know is that any such level of unemployment is unacceptable.
“The question is, what is the Government doing about it, and what would be the level of unemployment if the Government had not intervened in the economy in the way in which we have?”
Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has started an inquiry into why there is a large gap between the unemployment rate, which stands at 7.6 per cent, and the proportion of the population claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, which is 4.8 per cent.
There was speculation that this is partly because some of those being laid off are well-paid City workers, while others might not have claimed benefits if they were hoping to get another job quickly.
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