EEF slams government on overseas graduate access

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The government is acting unreasonably in restricting employers' ability to access skilled graduates from outside of Europe, according to the EEF.

Submitting evidence to the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee inquiry into international STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) students, the EEF criticised the government's decision to abolish the 'Tier 1' post-study work route, arguing that it restricted employers' ability to attract STEM graduates from outside of Europe. It also argued that the recruitment of international graduates was time-consuming and burdensome, hampering employers' efforts to bring in new international talent. 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... Government policy should not unreasonably restrict employers' ability to access this talent pool; however, industry fears that current migration policy is doing just that." He added: "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." In a survey of higher education published last year, the EEF said a quarter of manufacturers had recruited a non-EEA graduate in the past three years and one in 10 companies specifically planned 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 and over half (53%) found the recruitment process of non-EEA student time-consuming.