Former immigration officer discusses plans for offshore hub
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The UK has tightened its immigration policy after officially leaving the European Union at the end of December, 2020. The coronavirus pandemic and restrictions on travel has also limited the number of people coming to live and work in the UK.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said the Government needs to immediately update its “shortage occupations list” to include a range of sectors that are struggling with a shortfall in employees.
It is estimated around 1.3 million overseas workers have left the UK since the end of 2019.
The business lobby group, which represents 190,000 firms, acknowledged employers needed to take greater responsibility to address the problem by hiring and training the domestic workforce.
But, the CBI urged the Government to relax its rules for employers hit hardest by the lack of staff from abroad.
A subsequent poll of more than 5,000 Express.co.uk readers has found the vast majority of respondents were against the prospect of changes to immigration policy.
The online survey took place from 4.30pm on June 29 to 10.00pm on June 30 and asked 5,006 Express.co.uk readers: ‘Should Boris Johnson relax the new immigration rules to combat staff shortages?’
A huge 89 percent (4,429) were against the idea of changes and voted “no”.
Just over 10 percent (530) were in favour of a change of policy and voted “yes”.
Meanwhile, less than one percent (47) remained unsure and said they did not know.
A number of Express.co.uk let their opinions known in the comments section of the poll story.
One reader wrote: “We need to train our own people.”
A second added: “We have plenty unemployed people in this country before opening up the borders again.”
A third commented: “We should only relax the immigration rules when we are at full employment for those who are able to work.”
Meanwhile, some others disagreed and thought the move may be necessary.
One reader said: “It is not a matter of a U-turn or relaxing the rules it is a matter of extending the list to cover those trades that are screaming out for skilled labour.
“A country does not run on just scientists doctors nurses etc, we need bricklayers plumbers and the like. As long as they can prove they have these skills they should be given work permits nothing else. No work then they have to leave. Unless you have these you can’t build your economy.”
Another added: “What if there not enough unemployed people to do all these jobs?”
Businesses across the country are preparing for a busy season ahead as the lockdown restrictions are lifted.
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The hospitality and agriculture sectors have been particularly hit by workforce issues.
The CBI has urged ministers to add butchers, welders and bricklayers to the nationwide labour shortage list.
The list currently ranges from scientists, engineers and IT business analysts to web designers, vets and architects – but many roles have strict requirements.
CBI President Karan Bilimoria said: “Where there are clear, evidenced labour shortages, businesses should be able to hire from overseas. An evolving shortage occupations 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.”
A Government spokesperson 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.”
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