The Government’s new immigration scheme will seriously threaten building work at the Olympics, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).Immigration minister Liam Byrne last week said the points-based system, which will come into force in early 2008, would ensure the right people enter the UK.
The scheme is designed to make it easier for highly skilled, younger workers to enter the country. But it will be harder for low-skilled, non-EU workers to head to Britain.
However according to Anne Fairweather, REC head of policy, there is a real danger that the points based system will not deliver the workers that are needed in industries suffering from acute shortages, with construction being a key area of concern.
She said: “As more and more construction projects are commissioned, from schools and housebuilding, to power stations and the Olympics, the labour needs of this sector should be kept under close review.”
Despite the majority of migrant workers coming from within the EU, Fairweather told B&E that it shouldn’t always be assumed that this is a finite source.
“Obviously there is a lot of EU labour at the moment and that’s clearly with free movement,” she said. “However, in places like Poland they now have skill shortages themselves in the construction field and they have massive infrastructure programs that need completing.”
Construction union, Ucatt is equally unhappy with the scheme fearing that it will lead to the exploitation of unskilled migrants.
A spokesman told B&E: “Our concern is that the scheme reduces migrant workers to an indentured servants level. The fear is that companies employ them to do the work, then they can say they don’t want them anymore and ship them back.”