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Political Parties Divided Over Skills Gaps


Most Conservative MPs dismiss economic migration as a way of plugging UK skills gaps, according to a survey published by Skills for Business.

Fewer than two in ten Tory MPs support economic migration as a means to reduce Britain's skills shortages. This is in direct contrast to MPs in the other two main political parties, the majority of whom believe that economic migration should be encouraged to close the UK's skills gap.

The report, conducted by MORI, showed that:
* 87% (or nine in ten) of Labour MPs agree that economic migration should be used to plug skills shortages in the UK.
* 85% of Conservative MPs agree that the limited skills available in the current workplace are constraining UK employers from producing more complex products or better services.
* Three in four Tory MPs believe that the gap between the skills we need and the skills we have among our workforce is growing.

The findings come on the day the Tories prepare to discuss skills issues at their annual Conference and highlight the fact that 60% of employers admit that they currently have problems recruiting new employees with the required skills.

Professor Mike Campbell, director of research at Skills for Business and one of the country's leading labour market experts said: "The fact that Tories are so against economic migration is a startling revelation.

"Skills gaps and shortages have been identified in labour market research as the root of Britain's falling productivity levels. We need to address this quickly and efficiently if we are to avoid the very real risk of serious economic implications for the future prosperity of the UK.

"Migrant workers introduce new skills to the existing workforce and it is important for all members of the House to appreciate the benefits of embracing overseas talent. We have already seen the willingness of other economies to encourage migrant labour, such as in Australia, and Britain must accept the international nature of the modern workforce if it is to complete at a global level."

Survey of Britain's Members of Parliament was conducted by MORI for Skills for Business, Summer 2005. A sample of 98 Members of Parliament were interviewed face-to-face by MORI between 7 June and 1 August 2005.


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