London

Bulgarians and Romanians 'to benefit London business'

Generic picture of a construction worker Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry report said there is a 'skills gap' in the capital

Opening the London labour market to Bulgarian and Romanian migrants will benefit business the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) says.

Just over half of businesses it surveyed, 52%, said they employed migrants.

A skills gap among domestic candidates was the reason 58% of members gave, citing areas such as construction and tourism.

Gerard Batten, UKIP London MEP, said extra migrants would push down wages.

On 1 January, temporary restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals coming to the UK to seek work will expire.

A report by the LCCI said members interviewed thought this would be of benefit to London businesses, and that EU migrants made a valuable economic contribution.

More London businesses than in 2011 (8%) said they employed migrant workers.

'British not interested'

Engineering and the construction industry are among the areas that suffer skill shortages in the domestic workforce, the report says.

Some 58% of London businesses stated that a short supply of candidates with the relevant skills was their main reason for employing EU workers.

In the report, James Barr, business director at The Wesley hotel in Euston, north-west London, said: "Hospitality, particularly in London, is a growing industry but not enough British people are interested in hospitality as a career.

"Hospitality is something you need to have a passion for. As long as they can legally work in the UK, we recruit the person that has the right attitudes and skills."

Mr Batten said: "We've got a very high unemployment level in the UK. It's difficult to believe they can't fill a lot of these vacancies through domestic applicants."

Earlier this month, the boss of Domino's Pizza, Lance Batchelor, complained that he struggled to fill vacancies in London and the south east of England.

The LCCI is an independent, not-for-profit business support and networking organisation.

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