UK employers must stop taking on labour from abroad and give work to jobless British youths instead, the Work and Pension Secretary will say today.
In a speech to the Spanish Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies think tank in Madrid, Iain Duncan Smith will attest that the coalition government is attempting to tackle “painfully high” unemployment by shaking up the welfare and training system and placing a cap on migrant workers from outside of the EU so that British workers face less competition.
But he will also add that UK employers must play their part. “Government cannot do it all. As we work hard to break welfare dependency and get young people ready for the labour market, we need businesses to give them a chance, and not just fall back on labour from abroad,” Duncan Smith will say.
As a result, he will call for government and business to “pull together on this” in order to “finally start to give our young people a chance”. “Good immigration is managed immigration. It should not be an excuse to import labour to take up posts, which could be filled by people already in Britain,” Duncan Smith will say.
His comments appear to echo former Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s 2007 pledge of “British jobs for British workers”. The promise was widely criticised, not least by the Conservatives, after it emerged that about 80% of the jobs created when Labour was in power went to migrant workers.
According to official figures unearthed by Labour MP Frank Field, the situation has now got worse, however, with some 87% of the 400,000 jobs created in the coalition government’s first term of office going to staff from abroad.
A key problem, Duncan Smith believes, is that: “A good proportion of foreign nationals in jobs in the UK are in semi- or low-skilled occupations. And we know that a significant proportion of those coming into the UK purporting to be high-skilled workers have actually been doing low-skilled jobs once in the UK.”
As a result, part of the answer is simply to curb immigration. “Controlling immigration is critical or we will risk losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness,” Duncan Smith will say.