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TAXPAYERS are footing the bill for a string of seminars teaching British companies how to legally recruit more foreign workers – as the number of unemployed in the UK rockets past two million.

Under an initiative branded “absurd” by critics, the Government is running a number of “free lessons” to encourage firms to legally employ non-EU workers.

Yesterday the Home Office defended the taxpayer-funded seminars, which allow bosses to quiz experts on how to legally bring in extra foreign labour.

On the same day the Royal Bank of Scotland confirmed some 2,700 jobs, more than two per cent of its workforce, are to be axed.

Costing a total of £20,000, the classes proclaim to show how employers can tap into potential resources that offer “new solutions to the labour and skills shortages being experienced in the UK today.”

The series of seminars – already held in East Lancashire, Liverpool, Dorset and next month to be staged in London – are being hosted by the UK Border Agency, part of the Home Office, and the British Chamber of Commerce.

Last night furious critics attacked the move, calling on companies to look to the rising number of skilled and professional British workers who are seeking jobs.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Of course Britain should not bring down the protectionist barriers in a recession, but this will deal a further blow to Gordon Brown’s credibility in the eyes of many people after his boasts about ‘British Jobs for British Workers’.”

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch, added: “This is an absurd use of Government money.

“The focus must be on up-skilling British workers and not employing foreign workers.

“With unemployment rising weekly it is inexcusable that British workers shouldn’t have a first crack at jobs as they come available.”

But a British Chamber of Commerce said: “The BCC is involved in these programmes to ensure businesses do not fall foul of the law by employing illegal migrants.”

A Home Office spokesman added: “We have always said that we would run our immigration system for the benefit of the UK, and that is why we introduced a flexible points system which allows the Government to control the numbers of people coming to the UK from outside Europe, ensuring that they have the skills this country needs. continues here

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