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Home Secretary (Minister of the Interior, Conservative), Theresa May, will today announce a limit of 24,100 on the number of non-European Economic Area (EEA) who are allowed to come to the UK between now and April 2011. This is a reduction of -5%.
The government says its measures will eventually bring net migration down to the levels of the 1990s.
Business Secretary Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat) defended the cap but said it must be implemented flexibly, while the Labour opposition said it was "fraught with difficulty".
Reducing net annual migration was a key Conservative election pledge, which survived the coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, who had previously opposed a cap.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), however, has warned that a cap on immigration from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) will lead to greater skills shortages with the impact on sectors where in-demand skills are already difficult to find locally and becoming even deeper.
Kevin Green, Chief Executive of the REC, said "there were huge skills shortages before the recession and if the private sector is to grow rapidly out of recession, it will need skilled workers to do so. An artificial cap on immigration will affect business growth and delivery of core services such as social care."
"Therefore, we need to train up our young people to fill these gaps, but this will take time. We ask that the government seriously considers the impact of preventing skilled workers coming into the country if the positions they are being recruited for cannot be filled locally."