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Employers should be able to recruit non-European skilled graduates, says EEF

Government is acting unreasonably in restricting employers’ ability to access skilled non-EEA graduates, claims manufacturers’ organisation EEF.

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF today submitted its evidence to the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee inquiry into international STEM students.

In its evidence, EEF criticised the government’s decision to abolish the Tier 1 post-study work route, arguing that this decision is restricting employers’ ability to attract STEM graduates from outside of Europe, many of whom are left with no choice but to leave the UK after completing their studies.

Under the defunct Tier 1 rule, non-European Economic Area graduates who had studied in the UK were able to seek employment here for two years after completing their studies

EEF recommends that government restores the Tier 1 post-study work route and makes the process of recruiting non-EEA graduates easier and simpler, giving manufacturers access to a wider talent pool when skills shortages are rife.  

In a statement, Tim Thomas, head of employment and Skills Policy at EEF, said: ‘Manufacturers rely on the recruitment of non-EEA graduates to meet their skills needs, particularly those that hold degrees in the sciences, technologies, engineering and maths (STEM). Government policy should not unreasonably restrict employers’ ability to access this talent pool; however industry fears that current migration policy is doing just that.

‘Government should promote the value of international graduates, just as employers do. It should restore the Tier 1 post-study work route, or, introduce a route which allows international STEM graduates to stay in the UK after their studies to occupy hard-to-fill roles in industries such as manufacturing.

‘Government must work harder to remove the hurdles employers face when recruiting international graduates, giving businesses simple, easy access to skills they desperately need.’

Key statistics:


  • A quarter of manufacturers have recruited a non-EEA graduate in the past three years
  • One in ten companies specifically plan to recruit a non-EEA student in the next three years
  • Almost half of manufacturers disagreed that the process of recruiting a non-EEA graduate was easy
  • Over half (53 per cent) found the process of recruiting a non-EEA student very time-consuming
  • Four in ten companies had difficulties securing a sponsorship licence when recruiting a non-EEA student
  • Almost half had difficulties obtaining a visa for their non-EEA graduate employee
  • A positive balance of 22 per cent of companies said they would definitely hire a non-EEA student again

 Source: EEF Higher Education Survey 2013

Readers' comments (5)

  • Who or what is EEF? More lazy/greedy employers (?) who don't want to train the local product in our overcrowded island.

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  • Engineering Employers' Federation, as was.

  • They are getting paid more elsewhere. I know this first hand from my many non-EU friends. They don't want to be working in the UK. All of them have gone to UAE, Qatar, Switzerland, Germany, USA, Singapore and elsewhere. Every single one cite salary is the number one issue, then engineering status as the second issue. Opening the flood gates to try and dilute the labour pool will achieve nothing. Engineering unemployment in the UK is higher than the average rate of unemployment. Many people don't enter the profession, from those that do 70% of male and 50% of female will have left it within 3 years. The problem is with the way businesses operate here nothing else.

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  • Typo, 30% not 70%!

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  • Anonymous, being a non-EU undergraduate engineering student graduating this year I am eventually understanding this particular xenophobic nature of British engineering companies and workforce in general. Being a non-EU national I need sponsorship to work in the UK and I can't apply outside the UK because it is realistically impossible to travel for an interview during studies . I will eventually end up wasting a year of my life after graduating from UK and then finding a job elsewhere.

    I just wish I had foreseen this earlier when choosing a university and had gone to a country that openly recognises their national workforce needs and the global talent regardless of their nationality.

    On the other hand, you are absolutely right that due to flawed PSW laws by earlier governments, this island is indeed overcrowded with some just intending to exploit the welfare system of Britain. I would work where I am needed and appreciated by my work, and not my nationality.

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  • The government's actions have been correct and are entirely in-line with the thoughts of the general public concerning immigration.

    The EEF is representing companies who should be running apprenticeships, higher apprenticeships and graduate training schemes. If there is a skills shortage it is because the management of these companies are too lazy or too incompetent to set up training schemes to meet the current and future needs of their company. They could also run adult apprentice schemes and offer training placements to undergraduates. In the UK there are over one million young people out of work and many older engineers cannot find work due to age discrimination. There are tens of millions of people out of work across Europe so there is no need to look at non-European skilled graduates.

    The UK welcomes international students but they are here to study, not to work.

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