Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

New immigration policy threatens to cut businesses off to vital skills

The government has announced details of the immigration system that is to come into force on 1 January.

Under the plan, people considered ‘low skilled’ will be unable to come to the UK for work. People who wish to come to the UK to work will be required to speak English and have a job offer with a salary of £25,600 or more with few exceptions.

The news comes as ONS labour market figures show a rise in job vacancies for the first time in a year. The REC’s JobsOutlook survey showed almost half (49%) of employers expected to find a shortage of workers. Skills shortages are especially severe among lower paid jobs such as carers, drivers, and agricultural workers.  

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“Skills and staff shortages are one of the biggest challenges facing the UK economy. Roles in sectors as diverse as social care, hospitality and construction are already hard to fill which is why we need an evidence-based immigration policy that reflects the needs of employers.

“Jobs the government considers ‘low-skilled’ are vital to wellbeing and business growth. The announcement threatens shut out the people we need to provide services the public rely on. This would increase the likelihood of illegal working and exploitation. In the US, more than half of farmworkers and 15% of construction workers are unauthorized.  Nobody wants the UK to be in this position due to the lack of an official low-skilled immigration route where vulnerable workers will suffer.

“We need access to workers that can help us look after the elderly, build homes and keep the economy strong. Employers ask that there is a temporary visa route for businesses to recruit the essential skills they need at all pay and skill levels.”