UK firms seeking sponsorship to hire abroad, doubles in two years 

The past two years have seen a double figure in the number of firms seeking sponsorship to hire from abroad, coinciding with a significant exodus of hundreds of thousands of Britons from the workforce. 

This is according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), which also indicates that businesses are growing increasingly “frustrated” with the challenges of recruiting British workers and are turning to international candidates to fill job vacancies. 

Britain’s economically inactive population swelled by 884,000 since the onset of the pandemic, with over 9 million people of working age exiting the job market. 

The Home Office data, for instance, revealed a 50% increase in new work visas offered last year, totalling 169,000, compared to pre-Covid levels.

This is a result of the number of businesses which registered to sponsor visas more than doubled since 2021, reaching 76,310, as employers struggle to recruit from the domestic workforce. 

NewsTimes learns that despite substantial increases in wages, the pool of available workers has not been enticed to fill the more than 900,000 open positions. 

An economist at NIESR, Max Mosley noted that employers are therefore compelled to seek essential staff from overseas to meet their staffing needs.

This has led to international workers coming up in large numbers in the labour market, although challenging for employers. 

He said, 

  • International workers are propping up the labour market in many ways. 
  • “It is very challenging for employers – the kind of tools they have at their disposal, to raise wages to try to compete, does not work any more.” 

The workforce situation in the UK 

The number of individuals receiving out-of-work benefits has surged to over 5 million, a significant increase from 3.5 million in 2015, as reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Among them, 2.8 million cite long-term sickness as the reason for neither being employed nor actively seeking employment. 

Contrary to expectations, claimants are staying on benefits for extended periods rather than swiftly transitioning into available jobs, despite a 6.5% rise in average pay up to November, according to NIESR.

Max Mosley of NIESR noted the surge in registrations coincided with a tightening of the domestic labour market during the pandemic, signalling growing frustration among firms.  

This trend emerges despite warnings, like that from David Miles of the Office for Budget Responsibility, cautioning against overreliance on immigration to drive economic growth and alleviate Britain’s debts. 

Making work more attractive for British citizens 

Jeremy Hunt faces mounting pressure to reduce taxes to incentivize employment. 

The CEO of Reed Jobs has been advocating for the Chancellor to unfreeze income tax thresholds, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that work is financially rewarding to encourage individuals to rejoin the workforce. 

Reed asserts, 

  • Making work pay is a crucial factor in motivating individuals to return to employment. 
  • “Typically, income tax thresholds are adjusted to account for inflation, but they have remained stagnant since April 2022. 
  • “This freeze, initially announced by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in 2021 and subsequently extended by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt until 2028, has resulted in more individuals being pushed into higher tax brackets due to escalating wages amid the cost of living crisis, a phenomenon known as fiscal drag. 
  • “We have been through a period of quite severe inflation. The people who are caught in those thresholds now are quite different to what was originally planned. 
  • “The more people who are working who could be made free of income tax, the better, because it encourages work. That has been going in the opposite direction.” 

What this means for Nigerians 

  • David Miles of the Office for Budget Responsibility, indicates should be a caution against overreliance on immigration to drive economic growth and alleviate Britain’s debts. 
  • Therefore the UK will continue to place measures that will tighten work migration, making it more difficult for Nigerians and other nationalities to secure UK jobs and obtain work visas. 

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