“Employers want more than jingoism from government when it comes to growing the economy. The UK economy stands to lose up to £39 billion in GDP every year – two Elizabeth Lines – unless business and governments work together on labour shortages. Mobility for work has an important, but not dominating, role to play as part in this debate, which is overdue a dose of nuance and practicality from politicians.
“A proper industrial strategy would help boost business investment in productivity-improving technologies and would also lay the groundwork for firms to train more people, more effectively. Rather than lecturing firms, Ministers need to work with business on this – including reforming the failed Apprenticeship Levy. Such a strategy could deal with the facts on migration for work – not lazy tropes that it is time to ditch. Global Britain requires openness on migration for work, and the scale of shortages we face now mean there is no risk of any under-cutting.
“The government is kidding itself if it thinks employers across the economy can cherry pick who they hire. Acute labour shortages across most sectors mean that the option for most firms is to hire who is available – or just not do the work.”