Prime Minister Gordon Brown today announced a review of student visas to clamp down on people applying to study in the UK with the intention of working illegally when they get here.
The review, reporting next month, will consider whether visas should be granted only to foreign students on degree and postgraduate courses and stopped for those seeking to take shorter courses leading to lower-level qualifications.
Mr Brown also announced plans for a reduction of thousands in the number of posts on the Government's shortage occupation list, for which foreign workers can gain access to the UK because of a lack of local people with the skills to do the jobs.
He announced today that hospital consultants, civil engineers, aircraft engineers and ship's officers are being removed from the list of in-demand occupations which Britain needs to recruit from abroad.
And he said that during next year, the list would be narrowed further, with the Migration Advisory Committee considering the case for removing more engineering roles, skilled chefs and care workers.
Local workers will be given additional opportunities to secure available jobs, with the extension from two to four weeks of the period for which they must be advertised in JobCentres before employers seek to recruit overseas.
Mr Brown said this would be coupled with a scaling up in training opportunities to ensure that the jobs which become available as Britain emerges from recession go to the resident population rather than a new wave of incomers from abroad.
In his first major speech on migration for almost two years, he said: "As growth returns, I want to see rising levels of skills, wages and employment among those resident here, rather than employers having to resort to recruiting people from abroad."
Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of Unite, said: "The moves announced today to ensure that local skills and talents must be nurtured before employers can dash for an alternative workforce will be particularly welcomed.
"Workers are not expressing a fear of foreigners, but an anger that employers are exploiting overseas workers to undercut wages and drive down standards.
"Unite has always firmly believed that workers, wherever they hail from, must be treated equally in the law and at the workplace.
"Equal treatment law is the best way to stop bad employers looking to hire a cheap and fearful workforce, which is why we will continue to press the Government to act to clamp down the abuse of agency workers without delay."Reuse content