ICHEME has backed a report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) calling for a more balanced approach to immigration policy, which it says is damaging UK science and engineering.
The CaSE report, Immigration: Keeping the UK at the heart of global science and engineering, was launched in the House of Lords. It says that current government policy seeking to limit immigration is making it difficult for economically valuable workers, like scientists and engineers, to enter the country and in time could threaten the UK’s position as a global science leader. The rules are complex, the guidance is unclear and there is too much bureaucracy, it adds.
In June and July alone last year, almost 2,500 applications for UK visas were rejected, including 66 from engineers. CaSE says that skilled migrants make a significant contribution to the UK economy and the report makes 12 recommendations to the government to help raise the UK’s science and engineering profile, including scrapping the immigration cap for skilled workers.
IChemE contributed to the compilation of the report and raised specific concerns about the shortage of chemical engineers, as well as pointing out the benefits of immigration. IChemE director of communications Andy Furlong attended the report’s launch.
“If Britain is to maintain its status as a world leader in science and engineering, we should welcome foreign talent. IChemE is calling on politicians to do three things. First, stop pandering to the prejudice stirred up by some sections of the press. Second, strip much of the complexity and bureaucracy from our immigration system, and third, bear in mind that major engineering projects take time,” he said.
IChemE policy manager Alana Collis added that immigration is “deeply rooted” in the UK economy, with many major companies relying on international skills and trade.
“Companies choose to locate their operations in the UK in order to tap into British skills and expertise, but the choice is rarely just about British workers. The free movement of foreign labour is also important – both in terms of skilled engineers in the company but also skilled and unskilled jobs in the supply chain,” she said.
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