Firms 'Need Migrants Amid Skills Shortage'
A lack of skills among the UK's long-term unemployed means the Government must consider easing visa restrictions for migrant workers, according to a jobs study.
The call was made by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) as two separate reports, released on Tuesday, warned of threats to the UK's economic recovery.
They were published hours before new official figures showed the manufacturing sector growing at its best pace for three years in the 12 months to February.
While the studies - by the REC and British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) - all contained positive messages on jobs and output, they also maintained pressure on the Government to do more to support growth.
The REC, along with auditors KPMG, pointed to starting salaries for permanent employees rising faster in March than at any time since July 2007.
The study also showed that vacancies continued to increase but said a shortage of qualified candidates highlighted skills shortages, particularly among the long-term unemployed.
The REC's director of policy, Tom Hadley, said: "The trend of growth in people finding jobs across all industrial sectors and regions continues.
"Starting salaries and hourly pay rates are up as employers battle to entice the talent they need.
"However worsening candidate shortages mean that the number of people available to fill both temporary and permanent jobs is falling at the sharpest rate in nearly a decade.
"As well as 'up skilling' UK workers, the Government needs to take a joined up approach to immigration.
"A priority is addressing the restrictions on visas for highly skilled workers, which would allow businesses to access the people they need to grow and create jobs for more British workers."
He made his plea just a day after experts in the construction industry told Sky News a 'brawn drain' to New Zealand and Australia during the recession meant a skills shortage was now hitting the building of new homes in the UK.
The BCC pointed to strong service sector and manufacturing growth in its latest quarterly economic update.
However the survey of 8,000 firms also warned the recovery must become more balanced in the months ahead as it is still too reliant on consumer spending.
The report also continued to demand better access to finance for businesses as they look to expand.
BCC Director General John Longworth said: "Confidence is high and our members are determined to continue driving the recovery.
"We are brilliant at services and very successful at exporting our knowledge-based industries all over the world.
"This includes everything from accountancy and marketing through to literature and the IT sector.
"In addition, our dynamic, high-value manufacturing sector is once again confounding expectations, and going from strength to strength.
"But UK firms are ambitious, and more support is needed if we are to place the recovery on a sustainable, broader footing in the medium-term.
"We have witnessed many false dawns during the recovery, and external shocks still loom on the horizon. Given that over the next year or so we face political change at home and abroad, long-term policies that support our businesses as they look to grow and invest are crucial."
The studies by the BCC and REC were released as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) boosted hopes of a greater rebalancing of the economy during 2014.
The ONS measured month-on-month manufacturing growth of 1% in February.