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Asylum fears hit skills plan



Bill Goodwin

Hysteria about bogus asylum seekers could damage the Government's plans to open up the UK to more overseas IT...

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Bill Goodwin

Hysteria about bogus asylum seekers could damage the Government's plans to open up the UK to more overseas IT professionals, employers said this week.

Their concerns follow reports in the weekend papers that up to 100,000 overseas workers a year could enter the UK as a result of proposed Government reforms.

Home office minister Barbara Roche will highlight the need to update the UK's 30-year-old immigration rules to allow workers to come to the UK for economic reasons during a speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research in London on Monday.

Although Roche is not expected to announce any immediate policy changes, the speech will signal the Government's intention to make it easier for firms to compete internationally for skills.

The Overseas Labour Service has already begun implementing measures to open up the UK jobs market to skilled overseas professionals. But employers organisations warned this week, that the public's growing concern over bogus asylum seekers could make it harder for the Government to take action.

"It raises issues of xenophobia which are not really relevant when dealing with skills shortages," said Tim Conway, policy director of the CSSA.

IT National Training Organisation consultant John O'Sullivan said, "Training UK residents is clearly preferable, but if people are needed now, companies should be able to bring them in."

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