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Government’s policy on non-EEA graduates comes under fire

Government's policy on non-EEA graduates comes under fire

The EEF has criticised the government for restricting employers' access to skilled non-European Economic Area (EEA) graduates.

Evidence has been submitted by the manufacturers' organisation to the House of Lords' Science and Technology Committee inquiry into international STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) students, arguing the government is "acting unreasonably" by imposing restrictions.

EEF criticises the government for abolishing the Tier one post-study work route, which allowed non-EEA graduates who had studied in the UK to seek employment for a period of two years upon completing their studies. 

According to the organisation, this means it is increasingly difficult to attract recruits from outside Europe and many candidates are forced to leave the country when they finish their studies.

Recruiting international graduates is time-consuming and burdensome, the EEF claims, and this is hampering employers' attempts to recruit such talent.

It says that while one in ten companies specifically plan to recruit a non-EEA student in the next three years, over half of manufacturers surveyed disagreed that recruiting such a candidate is easy.

Some 53 per cent found the process of recruiting a non-EEA candidate very time-consuming and four in ten companies experienced problems in securing a sponsorship licence when recruiting a non-EEA student.

Despite these difficulties, 22 per cent of companies claimed they would definitely hire a non-EEA student again.

The EEF recommends restoring the Tier one post-study work route and simplifying the process of recruiting non-EEA graduates in order to give employers access to a wider pool of talent.

Tim Thomas, head of employment and skills policy at EEF, said: "Government should promote the value of international graduates, just as employers do. It should restore the Tier one 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." 

He added that government should try to remove the barriers faced by employers looking to hire international graduates and improve organisations' access to much-needed skills.