Head of CBI calls for ‘fixed-term immigration’ to ‘plug the gaps’

Head of CBI calls for ‘fixed-term immigration’

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The Director General of the Confederation of British Industry has called for an expansion on “fixed-term immigration” visas. Tony Danker determined a greater number of working visas would enable vulnerable industries to “plug the gaps” in their stretched workforce with skilled foreign workers. He claimed an expansion of working visas would be a “practical” decision to drive growth as the UK economy veers towards recession. The news comes as Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has emphasised calls to reduce net migration in keeping with Brexit policy.

The head of the CBI told Sky News: “I think the problem the government have is we really don’t know how we are going to get growth going in the economy. 

“The government has to stop spending money so it can’t do tax cuts and it can’t do spending increases.  

“The Bank of England have to put up interest rates – so where is the momentum for growth?

“That’s why you have to look at things like immigration or planning or regulation.”

The comments of the CBI director general come after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled the government’s plan for economic growth.

As anticipated, the autumn budget contained tax rises and spending cuts as the government desperately tries to dodge a lengthy recession.

Mr Danker asserted that a “simple” immigration system would benefit the UK economy by strengthening British industry.

He reported: “This should be a very simple system: Number one, what are the jobs we need to fill? Number two, have we got British workers to fill them? Then number three, if we don’t [have workers], let’s use immigration on a fixed-term basis.

“Just fixed-term visas to plug the gaps until British workers are ready to do the jobs. That is not how our immigration system works today and that is why it’s not helping us with our growth problem.”

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Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick has rejected the suggestions of the CBI head that working visas should be expanded to promote economic growth.

Mr Jenrick told Sky News: “We are aware of certain skills shortages and we want a pragmatic, sensible relationship with businesses.

“You can see that in some of the visas we have established in recent years, like the health and social care visa that has enabled thousands of doctors, nurses and care workers to come into the country to help support the NHS.  

“But, overall, our ambition is to reduce net migration – that is what the British public want and that was one of the driving factors in the vote to leave the European Union back in 2016.”

He added: “It is simply not true to say that we have adopted a closed-door approach since then. Last year, 300,000 work visas were issued for people to come into this country.”

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Mr Danker is set to speak at the CBI conference on Monday, where he will declare: “Let’s have economic migration in areas where we aren’t going to get the people and skills at home any time soon.”

Certain industries, such as hospitality and healthcare, have reported difficulties in recruiting staff in wake of Brexit, which has complicated the system for foreign workers in the UK.

The Immigration Minister has suggested such industries should turn towards the “domestic workforce” to fill staff vacancies, rather than recruiting from abroad.

The current unemployment rate in the UK is 3.6 percent, having edged up slightly from the 3.5 percent rate recorded in previous months.

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