Employers across sectors from financial services in the City of London to management consulting had their visa applications rejected on Thursday.
The UK government’s dramatic clampdown on immigration has hit hard the nation’s business schools and employers, which have complained that visa curbs are making it harder to recruit and retain international talent.
The 20,700 yearly cap on skilled workers from outside Europe was imposed in 2011. Priority is being given to higher-salaried migrants from science and academia — graduate tracks and private sector middle management posts are likely to be worst hit.
Professor John Reast, dean of University of Bradford School of Management, told BusinessBecause on Friday that the visa cap breach is “bad for business”.
“The ability to…Get employment is part of the calculation of coming to study in the UK. If that ability is taken away, it removes the pros of them coming here,” he said.
The government announced a range of fresh measures to cut immigration this week, including raising the minimum salary requirement for international recruitment, and plans to curb the use of internal company transfers that allow employers to move global workers to the UK.
Business groups issued negative responses to the proposals, saying non-EU skilled migrants accounted for just 0.066% of the British labour market.
Katja Hall, deputy director-general of the CBI employers’ lobby group, said highly skilled workers bring new ideas, tax revenue and help boost economic growth.
“We need to keep up-skilling our population but at the same time as attracting the best and brightest global talent,” she said.
“Businesses want to work with government to make sure British people have the skills the country needs. But we can’t just magic them from nowhere,” said Mark Hilton, head of immigration policy at London First, the UK capital’s business member organization.
He warned that cutting off the supply of global talent is “short-sighted” and will “hit economic growth”.
UK business schools argue the curbs make it harder to recruit talent from outside the EU, and have warned that international MBA students may find it harder to secure jobs.
The government in 2013 abolished the Tier-1 post study work visa, which allowed UK postgraduate students to stay in the region and seek work for two years after completing their studies.
“The UK higher education (HE) sector is an important export sector and we're being constrained,” said John at Bradford School of Management.
He said that the visa cap had “damaged” master’s and MBA recruitment in particular.
“I think for the most part the HE sector sees itself as a casualty in the cut and thrust of politics,” he added.
In May the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford warned that the visa cap had almost been breached between April 2014 and March 2015.
Madeleine Sumption, director at the Observatory, said last month: “Data indicate that it is increasingly likely that some employers — including the public sector — may find themselves unable to recruit non-EU staff over the next year. If this happens, we may see some of them turning to EU workers instead.”