By Claire West

With the latest quarterly ONS Control of Immigration statistics due out later today, the latest study on skills, migration and offshoring in the CIPD/KPMG Labour Market Outlook (LMO) report shows that the demand for migrant workers has increased in line with the anticipated improvements to the UK labour market.

More than one in five (22%) employers in the private sector intend to recruit migrant workers in the fourth quarter of 2010; its highest level since the LMO started tracking baseline migration data in summer 2009. Overall, about one in six employers (17%) plan to hire migrant workers in the final quarter of 2010, with demand for migrant workers in the public sector falling to 9%. Migrant workers are mainly required for skilled positions; particularly IT professionals, finance/accounting professionals and engineers. More than half migrant workers will be recruited from outside the EEA.

The findings also point to greater offshoring activity. Almost one in five (16%) private sector companies plan to offshore jobs in the 12 months to September 2011. Of those planning to offshore UK jobs, over three quarters (78%) intend to offshore to India, a third to Asia excluding India and China (36%) and two in five to eastern Europe (43%). The most common functions outsourced by employers include call centres (55%), IT (51%), and finance (49%). Almost all employers cite cost as the main driver for offshoring jobs. However, more than one in ten (12%) of those employers that plan to offshore jobs cite access to skills and knowledge as a reason.

Gerwyn Davies, CIPD public policy adviser and author of the report, comments: “The survey vindicates the Government’s sensible compromise to make intra-company transfer scheme exemptions and to increase the number of visas given to employers that have made a job offer. The announcement reflects the fact that there needs to be a phased, long-term reduction to immigration alongside an investment in the skills that employers are telling us are lacking in the UK jobs market, in order to boost home-grown talent. There is no doubt that a smaller question mark still hangs over employers’ ability to recruit the best people for skilled positions in the short-term.

“However, a bigger question surrounds the effect of future reductions during the lifetime of the Parliament. These may have a damaging impact on UK organisations, especially if the economy starts to recover in the second half of this Parliament as the Government expects. This makes it all the more important that the Government maintains a careful and balanced approach when it reviews the migration cap annually, so that the needs of employers are met in a way that reflects the changing economic and competitive fortunes of the UK economy.”