More than nine million people of working age have quit the jobs market
The United Kingdom is facing an unprecedented rush to hire foreign workers as employers seek to beat a deadline for an increase in threshold salary amid a shortage of local talent, The Times newspaper reported.
The number of companies registering to become sponsors to hire staff overseas through Skilled Worker visas has doubled in the past two years, according to the newspaper. More than nine million people of working age in the U.K. have quit the jobs market, the newspaper said.
International workers are propping up the local market in many ways and U.K. employers are finding that even raising wages is not helping them attract domestic talent, the newspaper cited Max Mosley, an economist at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, as saying.
Companies are now being forced to look for foreign workers, he said. The Office for National Statistics has found that 2.8 million people cite long-term sickness as the reason they are neither in work nor looking for a job, the newspaper said.
The Home Office is facing unprecedented demand for work visas before the rise in the minimum salary threshold in April. Official figures recorded that 169,000 work visas were offered last year.
The minimum annual salary needed by a foreign worker to qualify for a skilled worker visa will rise to £38,700 from £26,200 on April 4. The change is part of a package of measures announced by the government in December to reduce net migration by about 300,000 a year.
The clamour to obtain visas under the existing rules has led to the allocation system struggling to keep up with demand, the newspaper said. The Home Office is understood to be reviewing its visa services to prevent a collapse before the changes. The problem is said to be particularly acute for priority service requests as employers rush to complete the necessary paperwork.
The government is under pressure to curb net migration, which climbed to a record 745,000 in 2022, about three times the annual average before the pandemic. Curbing the inflow of foreigners was a key election plank of the Conservative Party.
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