Post Brexit: Call to Relax Post-Brexit UK Immigration Rules
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged the UK government to ease post-Brexit UK immigration rules to help companies facing staff shortages recruit more workers from overseas. The CBI called on the government to ‘immediately update its Shortage Occupation List (SOL) to include more jobs that employers find it difficult to hire for.
British companies are finding it more difficult to fill jobs as they expand hiring following a loosening of lockdown rules. The companies hit hardest such as hospitality, construction and trucking firms are struggling to bring back talent now that they’re allowed to start working again
The CBI warned that a ‘perfect storm’ of staff shortages is brewing as COVID-19 restrictions gradually start to ease, and said that failure to take action would put Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic at risk.
The UK’s most high-profile business lobby group, which speaks on behalf of 190,000 firms of all sizes and sectors, said employers need to take greater responsibility for tackling labour shortages by investing in the skills of the domestic workforce, and by taking a chance on job seekers who might otherwise be overlooked.
However, the CBI said that the government must urgently look at its post-Brexit UK immigration policy to prevent chronic skills shortages from undermining the UK’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
In particular road haulage firms, hospitality venues and the food and drink industry is suffering from severe staff shortages, with companies scrambling to hire staff as demand for goods and services returns.
The CBI said that government ministers must act on the advice from the independent Migration Advisory Committee published back in September 2020, which recommended that certain roles including bricklayers, butchers, and welders be added to the Shortage Occupation List.
Labour shortages are exacerbated by an exodus of European staff and workers bowing out of lower-pay, less secure jobs, especially in the hospitality industry. Some also left the country ahead of the deadline on 30 June for EU citizens living in the UK to apply for settled status.
Update on Shortage Occupation List (SOL)
The Shortage Occupation List is an official record of skilled job roles where there are not enough domestic workers to fill vacancies in the UK. Under the government’s new post-Brexit immigration system, UK visa applicants in shortage occupation roles get an additional 20 points needed toward the 70-point minimum required to work in the UK.
The pressure on UK businesses to find staff comes amid news that 1.3 million non-UK workers are estimated to have left Britain since late 2019 as many went back to their home nations to see out the pandemic.
Economists have claimed that a combination of COVID travel restrictions, new Brexit immigration rules, continuing pandemic risks and people reassessing their careers are contributing to increased labour shortages.
The UK immigration system needs to be updated to reflect labour shortages. Where there are clear, evidenced labour shortages, businesses should be able to hire from overseas. An evolving shortage occupation list could help.
But it’s really important to stress: workers from overseas aren’t, and shouldn’t be, our only response to labour shortages. Investing in skills here, too, is vital. It’s not an either/or choice. We must do both to ensure our firms have the access to people they need to succeed.President of the CBI, Lord Karan Bilimoria
Invest in Domestic Workforce
A spokesperson for the government said: “Employers should invest in our domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad. We’ve implemented an unprecedented package of measures to support businesses during the pandemic and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.”
“We’re also working with industries to better promote jobs, training, and a range of other initiatives. The government carefully considered the Migration Advisory Committee’s findings and recommendations on the Shortage Occupation List, but decided not to make wide-scale changes while we monitor the new skilled worker route and assess how the UK labour market develops and recovers post-pandemic,” the spokesperson added.
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