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Immigration policy
I was recently asked about our policy on immigration, but had to admit free movement of labour has been rejected by the general public.

One issue to bear in mind in this discussion is this country is employing well in excess of 100000 foreign workers in the NHS, including perhaps 89000 nurses and 37000 doctors. How would changes in our immigration policies affect the provision of a qualified and skilled workforce without compromising the day to day workings of the NHS?

The first issue is a revamp of our education system. Despite arguably the 6th best education system in the world, too many school leavers lack basic skills or qualifications and too many employees deplore the lack of similar skills in recent graduates.

Apprenticeships are lacking, and training needs to be made a life-long journey. A better qualified domestic work force will certainly displace the need for foreign born labour in the first instance.

As one example nursing is now a degree vocation. Until recently there was no vocational route into nursing, and the one now being touted by the NHS and Royal Colleague of Nursing is by their own admission simply a feeder route for degree courses. It appears geared to training people to a level no higher than a nursing auxiliary or care worker.

As the same time funding for domestic nurse training has been cut back, further aggravating the issue and further increasing the pressure for foreign recruitment.

As much as we’d like to have the best qualified nursing work force, we have set a standard which can only be filled long-term by foreign employees. Can we not supply these numbers domestically?

Once people are trained in any vocation, there may also be a need to relocate people from areas of high unemployment to areas of high vacancies. Nobody wants to leave their home town, but according to studies the vast majority of people move no more than 20 miles from their place of birth.

Such an initiative needs to include a properly thought out and funded relocation program, with affordable housing and efficient transport links at their destination.

Studies have shown that immigrants make informed decision when choosing countries to move to. A country with a low wage employment environment, such as the UK, will encourage immigration, as people know there is work to be found.
Conversely they will have nothing to offer to a high tech, high wage economy, unless they have the skills to match.

Secondly is reform of the visa or work permit system, perhaps using a point’s based system as in Canada or the US. The current system in our country appears driven by a desire to limit numbers, rather than attract applications or fill skills gaps.

The US certainly has an identical issue, artificially restricting the number of green cards, whilst business is crying out for skilled workers the domestic economy cannot supply.

The UKs revised scheme has also discouraged large numbers of foreign students, who were paying to study in this country, and then staying on to work and develop business, both to the benefit of this country, and ultimately their home country when they return home.

The final strand is a workable border controls, and the detention and deportation for those illegally entering and working in this country.

Our country has an unenviable reputation for porous borders and lax controls. Throwing up barbed wire fences and prefabricated walls at the channel tunnel is very much a case of closing the stable door after the house has bolted.

People need to know that if they have not followed an approved entry route, they will be deterred from entering the country by tighter controls, and if they do so, they will be detected and sent back to their country of origin.

I fell this document is somewhat laboured, no pun intended, and perhaps illiberal in some respects, but it is a pragmatic compromise between the need to take action on key points, and the need to have answer for the general public.

As ever I welcome any comments


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