The UK must do more to attract highly skilled workers from abroad if the nation's knowledge industries are to remain competitive, according to a new report.
Not-for-profit research organisation, The Work Foundation, has urged politicians to address pressures in the labour market as demand for skilled IT workers and other knowledge workers increases.
The report, Towards a Global Labour Market?, says soaring demand for highly skilled workers in IT, along with existing skills shortages and an ageing population means businesses must hire from abroad if the UK is to remain competitive.
But a climate of "hostility" towards immigration in general has the potential to harm the ability of firms to attract skilled, talented people from abroad, the report warns.
Katerina Rüdiger, author of the report, said: "At present, despite the hype, numbers are relatively low — only 167,000 high skilled workers came to this country on official figures from 2005. Politicians need to actively make the case for highly-skilled migration.
“The new points based system in the UK will not be enough on its own. Talented people want career opportunities, the chance to expand knowledge by working with the brightest and best, good salaries, and the creation of diverse and exciting cities."
Improving the skills of UK workers, while still important, is not enough to bridge the skills gap, the organisation has warned. Employment in knowledge industries in the EU has grown by 24 percent between 1995 and 2004, in comparison to total growth in employment of only 1.1 percent.
The UK employs the third largest number of migrants with professional and technical skills, around 715,000. The US has over 4.1 million and Canada 918,000.
Continued recruitment of skilled migrant workers would also shore up the UK’s ability to attract foreign direct investment and as a place to do top-flight research and development.
A report from recruitment firm IT Jobs in the City echoes these findings, stating that there is still a strong demand for IT skills in the finance sector, despite the credit crunch.
IT workers with skills in Oracle and SAS, as well as securities, analyst developers, system support, middle office and web developers are still in strong demand.
Compliance projects and risk management support, are driving demand, according to the recruitment firm.
Adam Stokes, operations manager at IT Jobs in the City said: "Despite the gloom within the City, we are still seeing demand for IT workers. Providing IT support for compliance projects such as MIFID (in Financial Instrument Directive), as well support within risk management will be critical over the coming months. IT workers within the city are seen as a valuable resource, and we don't expect that to change."
Find your next job with computerworld UK jobs