Skilled staff shortages have required 20% of UK employers to fill vacancies with migrant workers in the past three months, a survey has shown.
About 40% of employers found it hard to find suitable staff for some vacancies, such as doctors, nurses and engineers.
Public-sector employers were more likely to take on foreign staff than private companies, according to a poll of 700 bosses by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Outsourcing jobs to other countries remained a popular solution, with 10% of all firms intending to move work abroad. Breaking the responses down by sector, almost 50% of IT firms and 20% of manufacturers said outsourcing was in their plans, with popular destinations including India and Eastern Europe.
CIPD public policy adviser Gerwyn Davies said: "Despite rising unemployment, employers are still struggling to recruit the people they need and we are turning abroad to plug the gap.
"Through a combination of recruiting migrant workers to fill UK vacancies, or outsourcing work to locations abroad, employers are looking to strike the right balance between the skills for the job and the cost reductions needed to meet budget targets."