Give jobs to young Britons over foreigners

A British minister called Friday for business to recruit young unemployed Britons rather than taking on migrant workers.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said more than half of the new jobs created in Britain over the last year went to foreign nationals.

One of the British government's key strategies in its drive to cut "painfully high" unemployment is to get immigration under control so that British workers face less competition for jobs from migrants, Duncan Smith said.

But he called on businesses to play their part by giving jobs to unemployed British youths rather than recruiting labour from abroad.

The comments, in a speech to the right-leaning Spanish Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies think-tank (FAES) near Madrid, have been compared to former prime minister Gordon Brown's pledge in 2007 of "British jobs for British workers".

Brown was criticised for his promise when it emerged that around 80 percent of the jobs created during Labour's time in power went to migrants.

In the first year of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition, that figure rose to 87 percent of the 400,000 jobs created, according to official statistics.

According to a copy of the speech released by the government, Duncan Smith said: "This government is reforming welfare to make work pay, and to help people back to work.

"And we are toughening sanctions against those who refuse to take jobs when they are available.

"But we also need an immigration system that gives the unemployed a level playing field.

"If we do not get this right then we risk leaving more British citizens out of work, and the most vulnerable group who will be the most affected are young people."

Controlling immigration was "critical" to avoid "losing another generation to dependency and hopelessness".

"But government cannot do it all," he said. "As we work hard to break welfare dependency and get young people ready for the labour market, we need businesses to give them a chance, and not just fall back on labour from abroad.

"If government and business pull together on this, I believe we can finally start to give our young people a chance."

Unemployment in Britain fell by 88,000 in the three months to April, the biggest quarterly cut in more than a decade, taking the jobless total to 2.43 million, but unions have expressed fears of the effects of deep cuts in public spending on public sector jobs.

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