Immigration minister Damian Green has coming out fighting in response to criticism from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) over the introduction of an interim cap on skilled workers from outside the EU.
Earlier this week, John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, criticised interim arrangements for an immigration cap, saying: "The system is being poorly managed and proving a real headache for firms trying to keep on valued foreign members of staff, or recruit specialists from overseas.
"The problems are undermining confidence that the permanent cap will work. The migration system must support, not hamper growth. To do this, it should prioritise skilled workers with a job offer. This relatively small pool of workers doesn't just earn money and pay taxes here, but also keep major employers and projects here, supporting many more UK jobs."
Responding to the criticism, Damian Green said: "The ability of employers to fill vacancies is affected by a wide range of factors including their own training policies, pay and conditions and corporate reputation. In the vast majority of cases it is unfair to blame our limits for recruitment difficulties."
He added: "The interim immigration cap was introduced to stop a rush of last minute applications ahead of the annual limit being introduced in April next year and the UK Border Agency has been working very closely with businesses to ensure that these arrangements have been implemented effectively."
The CBI is calling for an immediate review of interim arrangements to ensure they are not hampering the economy.
When the permanent immigration cap is introduced next year, it also wants the UK Border Agency to prioritise skilled migrants with a job offer. These workers currently enter the UK through Tier 2 of the Points-Based System (PBS).
In addition, Cridland has asked the UKBA to exempt Intra-Company Transfers (ICTs) from the immigration cap, at least for a "time-limited period", and to look carefully at reducing the number of student visas under Tier 4 of the PBS -- although without hampering the ability of leading universities to attract "high-calibre applicants".