News Date: Wednesday 9th September 2009
Movement of jobs overseas by Lloyd's Banking Group.
Maintaining high employment is a key Conservative social and economic priority, and has become even more important in the current recession. I understand your concern that this ‘offshoring’ could add to the number of valuable jobs that have already been lost in this country, and recognise that the effects on the individuals concerned will be painful.
However, it is my belief that protectionist trade and labour policies have negative long-term consequences for an economy. While certain categories of position are increasingly moved offshore, under normal economic circumstances other types of jobs are being created here in the UK. Unfortunately, this recession does not represent ‘normal circumstances’ but, even so, the British economy has as many jobs to lose by adopting a protectionist labour market stance as it has to gain.
What the country does need is a thriving, flexible job market driven by a successful business community, a socially responsible immigration policy and a world-class skills agenda. That is why, to preserve jobs during the economic downturn, we have outlined proposals for a National Loan Guarantee Scheme, to underwrite credit from banks to viable British businesses. Unfortunately, the Government’s own business support schemes have proved inadequate.
On immigration, we propose an explicit annual limit on the number of economic migrants from outside of the EU and a two-stage process for deciding whose application should be successful. The first stage will make eligible for admission only those who will benefit the economy – in other words, the workers we actually need. The second stage will control numbers with regard to the wider effects on society of their admission.
On skills, my Party has expressed concern that just 28 per cent of the British workforce is qualified to apprentice, skilled craft and technician level, compared to 51 per cent in France and 65 per cent in Germany. By re-directing funds from the Train to Gain budget, we will provide a £2,000 bonus to small and medium-sized enterprises for every apprentice they hire.
Ultimately though, I want to see British workers in demand all over the world because they are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in a global labour market, and we will continue to work to make this a reality