A survey by the British Chambers of Commerce on the attitude of small and medium sized businesses to employing migrant workers has uncovered the shockingly low opinions many have of the skills, experience and productivity levels of the British workforce.When asked ‘What reasons do you have for employing migrant workers?’, amongst the responses were:

Short supply of candidates with required skills: 25.6 per cent

Migrant workers have a better work ethic: 23.3 per cent.

Short supply of candidates with required experience: 19.6 per cent

Migrant workers are more productive than UK equivalents: 17.4 per cent

Unsurprisingly given that response, 75.8 per cent of businesses said that migration was beneficial to the UK economy.  Firms are also now employing a higher percentage of migrant workers since the 2004 accession countries joined the European Union.

Significantly, almost 70 per cent of those surveyed do not believe that the Government offers enough support and guidance to businesses wishing to employ workers from abroad.  The most popular tool that businesses would like to see introduced for the helping them to understand a person’s entitlement to work in the UK are ID cards for migrant workers along with a telephone helpline offering advice.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Migrant workers have helped to fuel the UK economy but it is troubling that so many businesses do not want to employ British workers.  The UK's chronic skills shortages must be addressed by the Government and reform of the school curriculum is needed to ensure that young people enter the workforce with the necessary skills and the right attitude to get on at work. 

“Since 2004 workers from the EU accession countries have contributed greatly to the UK economy.  Without them it is doubtful the economy would have grown at the rate it has.  It is unsustainable, however, to import our way out of the failings of the UK education system.  I hope the findings of this survey focus minds and ensure that the Government takes seriously the lack of employable British workers in the jobs market.”