By Phoebe Cooke
Britain should concentrate on training up young British people to fill vacancies rather than "taking the easy option of recruiting from abroad", a minister has claimed.
Matthew Hancock disputed claims from the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) that 60,000 foreign workers are needed annually to keep national debt at sustainable levels.
"I don't agree," the minister for skills told the Daily Mail newspaper. "Immigration without support for people who are here masks problems.
"It doesn't solve them. The jobs are increasingly there – we've got record numbers of jobs.
"What we are talking about is making sure local people have a chance to get them."
The number of jobs filled by foreign workers has decreased from 74% under Labour to 55% under the coalition.
But Hancock insists the government need to go even further in getting jobs filled by "local" people, advocating apprenticeships in particular as a means of making this happen.
"It is sometimes harder to take on a young unemployed local person but, in the long term, it's better for the business and it's better for the whole economy," he added.
Hancock was adamant more British workers need better skills to adapt to the workplace, saying: "It would be wrong for companies without an apprenticeship scheme to recruit from overseas without looking at what they can do to take on local people."
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The comments came after Ukip leader Nigel Farage has attacked explicit advertising which tells illegal immigrants to "go home or face arrest."
The Ukip leader claimed the government's advertising, driven around London boroughs on advertising vans, is a "diversionary tactic" to make it look like ministers are doing something about immigration. He warned that settled ethnic minorities would take the campaign as "a sign of open warfare".
"I think it's very Big Brother, very statish, very sort of East Germany circa the 1980s, it's just a horrid way of doing it," Farage told LBC.
He accused the government of rolling out the one-week London pilot scheme because it is in trouble over immigration and the potential influx of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants next year after European Union restrictions are lifted.
The one-week pilot campaign recalls the government's proposed campaign to put Romanians and Bulgarians off coming to the UK with pictures of Britain's grey weather, crumbling infrastructure and lack of culinary delights.
The proposals were considered deeply offensive by the intended targets, many of whom claimed they had no desire to come to Britain anyway.