Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Recruiters Fail in Bid to Offer Work Permits

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Recruiters Fail in Bid to Offer Work Permits

Article excerpt


Employers will not be able to let agencies do the leg work to attract skilled overseas staff in spite of an industry review by the Home Office.

FOR an industry that is so occupied with globlisation, the IT sector seems to be particularly constrained by restrictions on international movement. Work permits have been a particular problem with skill-starved companies facing complex legislation to bring in overseas talent.

The government does not allow recruitment agencies to secure work permits themselves. These companies would benefit from the ability to secure the permits for staff and contractors that they hire for their clients, because it would enable them to offer a service to clients while letting them pursue people with rarer (and therefore more valuable) skills overseas.

Things could have become easier following the announcement of a government review this summer which could have opened up work permits to recruitment agencies. Unfortunately, last month the consultation concluded, returning a "no" result.

There are four main reasons, for the refusal, according to explanatory documents at the Home Office's work permits web site, Firstly, it says that current arrangements link the existence of a vacancy to the issuing of a work permit, and that most responses from the industry view this in a positive light. Secondly, such arrangements protect the interests of overseas workers by making sure that corporate employers are accountable for their terms of employment. Thirdly, some parties were concerned about the displacement of resident workers, along with the possible abuse of work-permit arrangements. Finally, some industry spokespeople worry that issuing permits to agencies will not help to find overseas workers with the required skills.

Regardless of the government's claims, some industry members are not happy. Ann Swain, chief executive of the Association of Technology staffing Companies (ATSCO), says. …

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