Post-Brexit immigration rules failing to encourage firms to train UK workers - CIPD

People walk through the 'More London' business district with Tower Bridge seen behind in London

By Suban Abdulla

LONDON (Reuters) - Changes to Britain's immigration system since leaving the European Union have not incentivised firms to invest more in the recruitment and training of UK-based workers, a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development found on Tuesday.

The CIPD explored how British companies adapted to the point-based immigration system since its introduction in January 2021 when Britain officially left the European Union. The points-based system was launched to help attract high-skilled workers to fill staff and skills shortages.

However, the CIPD said restrictions on employers' ability to hire migrant workers had not encouraged companies to recruit and train UK workers as intended.

"An anticipated benefit of changes to immigration policy was that it would encourage employers to invest more in local workers, but in too many instances this doesn't appear to be happening as intended," Ben Willmott, head of public policy for the CIPD said, calling on the government to do more to support the employment and training of UK workers.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces pressure to balance boosting the economy amid tight labour market conditions against political resistance to increased migration ahead of a national election expected next year.

Interior minister, Suella Braverman, who oversees Britain's immigration system, seeks to cut net migration, but finance minister Jeremy Hunt last week told a businesses conference that the government would always remain "pragmatic" when it comes to immigration.

In 2019, the Conservative Party pledged to bring down annual net migration to below 250,000 by the next election.

However, net migration figures, due to be published this week, are expected to show a jump to at least 700,000 – more than double the 335,000 recorded in the run up to the Brexit vote.

The CIPD research showed British firms that had used the post-Brexit points system to hire migrant workers were in fact more likely to invest in the recruitment and development of UK staff than those that had not - partly because they were more likely than the survey average to report hard-to-fill vacancies and were taking a range of steps, including upskilling and hiring UK talent, to address this.

It also said those organisations were more likely to hire from a range of disadvantaged groups including parents returning to work and older workers.

(Reporting by Suban Abdulla, editing by Andy Bruce)