Brexit lift-off: Highly skilled workers are flocking to Britain, new analysis shows

David Davis on Brexit HGV driver shortage

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And once Ukraine has been taken out of the equation, the number of work visa applications as a proportion of the overall population in the UK is more than double that of the bloc. Facts4EU used Home Office data to show that in the 12 months to the end of June, there have been 172,045 work-related visas granted by the UK Government, including 56,075 in the second quarter of this year.

If the trend continues, the UK will approve more than 250,000 work-related visas for people from countries outside the EU by the end of the year.

Additionally, of all the work-related visas granted in 2020, the majority – 60 percent – were in the ‘high-skilled’ category.

Facts4EU also analysed data from Eurostat, the EU’s statistics division, relating to the number of non-EU citizens who applied for residency permits in 2020.

In total this figure amounted to 903,398, but is significantly distorted by the vast number of people from war-torn Ukraine submitting applications – 516,005, or 57 percent of the overall total, 85 percent of whom work in Poland.

Taking that into account, the remainder – 387,393 – amounts to 0.09 percent of the EU’s total population.

The total number of workers who sought permits for the UK in 2020 – 125,169 – represents 0.19 percent of the UK’s population, more than twice that of the EU.

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Facts4EU’s chairman Leigh Evans said: “Facts4EU.Org’s report today shows that not only are very significant numbers of new foreign workers still entering the UK and being employed, but these numbers are accelerating as the Covid restrictions on travel are lifting.

“Facts4EU.Org expects the number of new foreign work-related visas to exceed 200,000 this year and it could be significantly higher. Some large businesses and industry bodies (often those which were always pro-EU) are complaining about labour shortages.

“If any questions are to be asked, it seems more reasonable to ask why we are still importing foreign workers in such numbers and why these companies are unable to recruit British workers instead.”

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“For comparison, the total number of all UK visas granted in the last 12 months to end-June 2021 was an astonishing 830,969 – despite Covid and despite Brexit.”

These include visas for family reasons and reunification, for study purposes, and for other reasons, Mr Evans explained.

He added: “No one is suggesting that there are not shortages of key workers in the United Kingdom, but this is true of all EU countries.

“In certain activities in the UK this problem is acute, as in the case of HGV drivers for example, but many EU countries are also each short of tens of thousands of drivers.

“This is a problem that has been years in the making – long before Brexit or Covid.”

The enormous backlog of tests and licence applications caused by “industrial action and excessive bureaucracy at DVLA and DVSA” had exacerbated the situation, Mr Evans claimed, stressing: “This can hardly be put at the door of Brexit”.

He said: “In addition, HGV drivers have been leaving the profession for years, for many reasons including poor working conditions, poor pay, and the recent changes in tax treatment of self-employed drivers.

“Some large employers are now making great play of training new HGV drivers in the UK.

“There seems little doubt that far too little training of British drivers was done pre-Brexit, as the supply of cheap labour from the poorer countries of the EU was so plentiful.

“There are many things to put right and improve in the country, why fight each other?”

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