A right-wing thinktank has called for immigrants who wish to live and work in the UK to command a minimum £36,700 salary – a proposal that could have an impact on teacher recruitment.
The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), founded by former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith, says in its report "Prioritising Growth – The Future of Immigration Policy" that the threshold should be increased from £30,000 as “record levels of low-skilled immigration in recent years have pushed down wages for low-paid, UK-born workers”.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, warned that this thinking was “completely out of touch” with the realities of teacher recruitment.
Overseas teacher recruitment
The CSJ proposals would see the Tier 2 route into the UK renamed as a "skilled work visa".
Its spokesman said: “The minimum salary threshold should increase to 35 per cent above the median, a level commensurate with the status of skilled workers.
“This said, the Home Office could still devise a list of occupations considered strategically important or in high demand, such as NHS workers…who could continue to come to the UK to work.”
The report did not directly mention teachers, but looked at the whole workforce.
It says: “While immigration has been a net positive for the British fiscal purse, pockets of the population have not benefited.
“The significant increase in low-skilled immigration has helped put downward pressure on wages for UK-born workers at the bottom of the income spectrum, as well as arguably reduced social mobility.
"The employment outcomes for low-skilled immigrants from certain countries have also been quite poor, with many facing higher levels of unemployment and deprivation.”
Mr Barton said: “At a time when it is impossible to recruit some teachers in some subjects in some areas, this sounds completely out of touch.
“There are definitely many teachers who are immigrants who earn below that.
“We have one of the youngest teaching professions there is because so many people leave, and this just shows a complete misunderstanding of the situation.”
The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.