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Government relaxes immigration rules to ease skills shortages


The Financial Times reports that the government is relaxing several immigration regulations in an attempt to ease skills shortages in the UK.

The decision means that overseas students and seasonal workers will benefit from increased time within the country to secure work here. Overseas students will now be able to apply for a work permit with a prospective employer after they graduate rather than having to leave the country and reapply for entry once they have found a job here. The decision to allow students to stay on will be based on whether the student has relevant skills or knowledge which are highly sought-after to fill skills gaps here.

In addition, the number of workers allowed into the UK on a seasonal basis to undertake agricultural work is being increased next year to 15,200 from 10,000 this year, after the National Farmer's Union complained that were not enough workers available to pick fruit and vegetables and harvest crops.

Home Office Minister Barbara Roche, who announced the changes, is also looking at the entire immigration system to see whether the problem with skills shortages can be addressed in a more systematic way. The Financial Times says that the government's aim is to "put Britain ahead in the scramble for entrepreneurs, scientists and high-technology specialists." The government is also keen to receive input from employers and unions for suggestions on how the regulations could be successfully overhauled.


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