The CBI will urge the Government not to strangle business with a heavy-handed cap on immigration, arguing that the Coalition should limit the number of students entering the country before it closes the doors to skilled professionals. It will also warn that the current rules are not working.
A cap on non-EU immigration was a cornerstone of the Conservative election campaign, and the new Government is expected to introduce limits in April next year. But CBI, the business lobbying group, which submits its proposals on the cap today, called for the Government to ensure that the immigration system is designed in a way that supports the economic recovery.
John Cridland, the CBI's deputy director-general, said: "As the economy gears up for growth, the UK must demonstrate that it is open for business. Companies must be able to access the best and brightest talent from around the world."
The Government has alreadyintroduced a temporary cap, which was criticised by the Business Secretary Vince Cable, who earlier this month said that "a lot of damage is being done to British industry". He later softened his stance, saying: "We are now moving on to constructive discussions with the Home Office in terms of how we have a system which is flexible."
The Government wants to maintain the number of non-EU migrants entering the country to less than 25,000 a year. A points system introduced by the previous government is already in place, limiting places in the UK to highly-skilled workers and students.
Stressing that it has no ideological opposition to a cap, the CBI said that when limitations are introduced, they should apply largely to student applicants.
However, the employers' group warned that the interim arrangements did not bode well, and were already causing difficulties. "The system is being poorly managed and proving a real headache for firms trying to keep on valued foreign members of staff, or recruit specialists from overseas," Mr Cridland said.