Sir James, who is thought to be worth £3bn, wrote an opinion piece for The Financial Times entitled 'Stop kicking out bright foreigners, or put British jobs at risk. He says that in 2014, there will be 61,000 engineering positions in the UK that will go unfilled and says that, if companies can't find the engineers in the UK, they will be forced to go elsewhere, thus costing British jobs.
It seems from what he has said that Sir James is likely to be in favour of immigration schemes similar to those that have since closed for new applicants such as
- The Tier 1 (General) visa that allowed skilled professionals to work freely in the UK without a sponsor and
- The Tier 1 (Post Study Work) visa which allowed students to work in the UK for two years after graduation.
Tier 2 scheme makes it 'difficult to sponsor workers'
Sir James says that his company intends to recruit 3,000 engineers to work at his headquarters in Wiltshire in 2014 but says 'I have no idea where these engineers are going to come from'. He says 'Last year we had 120 engineering positions unfilled. It holds us back and it holds exports back'.
In the longer term, Sir James says that the UK must change the education system to produce more engineers. He suggests that the UK should 'offer financial incentives to encourage the brightest students towards areas of vital national interest'.
But, in the shorter term, the UK must allow foreign engineering graduates who train at British universities to stay in the country to work. He says that, instead, 'we kick them out, dispatching newly trained engineers to foreign shores. Our experts are training the competition'.
Sir James names (former) immigration minister Mark Harper as being partly to blame for the situation. He says 'Immigration Minister Mark Harper will have you believe that this (refusing foreign engineering students permission to stay in the UK) is in the national interest. It is not. We all lose out when we deprive our businesses of the best talent'.
'Let's use their brains'
Sir James says that foreign students want to stay in the UK. He says they 'are clearly anglophiles and they are clearly bright. So let us use their brains to our advantage.
The reason these engineers go home is because we do everything we can to make them unwelcome'.
Sir James adds that it is also extremely difficult for UK employers who face 'high fees and an avalanche of paperwork'. He says 'these are the world's most promising engineers. We ought to be encouraging them to stay, not waving them goodbye'.
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