Getting UK people back to work after the Covid-19 crisis should take priority over making it easier for employers to look abroad, according to a new poll.
77% of respondents to a new Deltapoll survey (commissioned by Migration Watch UK) said that they believed government must ensure that employers prioritise hiring UK workers instead of giving into demands for more overseas recruitment.
Only 8% said the government should make it easier to bring in people from abroad.
The sample size was 1,556 and the poll was conducted from 14 to 15 May.
The result comes as the government moves ahead with a plan to take away from people in the UK the first chance to apply for jobs.
Under the ‘Resident Labour Market Test’, employers have been obliged to check that no suitably-qualified worker exists in the UK labour market before filling vacancies in scores of occupations through overseas recruitment.
Many countries have similar rules in place.
The finding suggests that, in wanting to scrap this safeguard, Ministers are strongly out-of-kilter with public opinion at a time of major economic and social difficulty.
77% of respondents surveyed this month believed that ‘with record numbers of people unable to work as usual, the government should ensure that employers prioritise getting British workers back to work instead of making it easier to bring in more employees from abroad’.
When faced with the option, only 8% indicated government would be right to scrap safeguards so firms can binge on cheaper overseas labour.
Similar results hold across supporters of different parties, across age groups and across regions:
- 89% of 2019 Conservative voters said the focus should be on getting British workers back to work, as did 71% of 2019 Labour voters and 72% of 2019 Liberal Democrat voters
- 71% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 said it should be the focus, along with 91% of those aged 65 and over.
- 72% of Remain voters agreed, as did 86% of Leave voters.
- 79% of those in the North said this, as did 72% in the Midlands, 86% in Wales, 82% in Scotland, 81% in the South of England and 64% in London.
Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:
“With unemployment claims already at two million and rising, the public are virtually united in wanting the interests of the UK workforce to be put first.
“It is not too late for the government to rethink its immigration plan so that, when the crisis is finally behind us, British workers will have the first shot at new vacancies.”