Immigration and Business Roundup – Labour Shortages Starting to Bite
Over the last few weeks the UK business community has been vocalising its concerns over the shortage of labour to the Government.
With the spectre of Brexit officially beginning in just over three months and the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd repeating the now classic rhetoric of, “we must get net migration down to reasonable levels” (generally seen to be the tens of thousands instead of the latest figure of 335,000), the threat to business’s ability to recruit the talent they need is becoming increasingly dire.
A report in Bloomberg in late November stated that the Confederation of British Industry and the British Chamber of Commerce have urged Labour to put pressure on Prime Minister, Theresa May, to guarantee that EU citizens can remain after Brexit - this is according to two party officials with knowledge of the discussions. Businesses are also anxious that they maintain access to skilled and unskilled workers from the continent, the officials said.
Immigration lawyers and other experts have been saying for almost a year that Britain needs the best talent that not only the EU, but the wider world has to offer. Employers who hold a UK Sponsor Licence understand just how valuable being able to recruit talent from countries such as India, China and Latin American on a Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa is.
Which is why they are battling so hard to retain their right to recruit from wherever in the world they need to in order to grow their business.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has said placing curbs on Immigration after Brexit could pose "a real risk to some industries and places" in Wales. Just over half of Welsh people voted to leave the EU in the June referendum.
Ms Wood said the party was looking to the "Norwegian model" which allows people to enter the country for six months to find a job or set up a business, which could be similar to the Tier 1 (entrepreneur) Visa or the UK Standard Visitor Visa already in place for non-EEA nationals.
Brexit also poses a problem for Wales due to it receiving more funding per head of population than any other part of the UK; money that will not be available for investment in infrastructure and business initiatives once we leave the EU. The agricultural and fishing industries also receive significant EU funding at the moment.
The impact of migration on public services is another important consideration. The Migration Observatory estimates there are around 70,000 EU citizens of working age in Wales, with around a third of non-UK born people working in the public sector. Public services in Wales are reliant on overseas workers to fill staffing vacancies. The NHS, for example, employs doctors and nurses from across the EU (and further afield) to help fill staff shortages, while social care is heavily dependent on EU migrants.
Scottish labour shortage
The agricultural and fishing industries in Scotland have also indicated to both Government sources and Immigration solicitors that being denied access to the best talent the EU has to offer, will hurt their markets.
Recent reports state that fruit exporters may be forced to move their fruit production abroad because they will be unable to recruit the staff they need once Britain leaves the EU.
The problem is not just affecting Scotland. The National Farmers’ Union and the industry body British Summer Fruits have warned Brexit minister, David Davis, that unless the Government finds a way to keep migrants, growers will sell up and move to France or elsewhere in the EU.
The £1.2bn industry relies virtually 100% on workers from Europe because British workers “do not want to get up at 6am and work on their hands and knees all day”, said Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits told The Guardian in July.
Skill shortages affecting almost every industry
Almost every industry in Britain seems to be suffering from a skills shortage, or at least anticipating one in the very near future. For example:
- A survey of Build UK members has found that the shortage of skilled labour has become more severe since Brexit, despite the EU referendum outcome not having an immediate slowdown in work for UK contractors overall.
- The current skills deficit in the digital technology sector risks £63 billion being lost from the UK economy each year.
- According to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 43% of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), vacancies are hard to fill. This is mainly down to a shortage of applicants with the required skills and experience.
These statistics make it clear that Britain needs more skilled and unskilled migrants, not less, if it is going to continue its position as one of the leading industrial countries in the world. The best Immigration lawyers and other policy experts believe more UK Sponsor Licences should be issued and the requirements for Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visas should be loosened rather than tightened. Otherwise, we risk our position as a frontrunner on the world’s economic stage.
It remains to be seen if the warnings will be heard before it is too late.
OTS Solicitors is one of the most respected Immigration law firms in London. By making an appointment with one of our Immigration solicitors, you can be assured of receiving some of the best legal advice available in the UK today. Our business immigration solicitors, Teni Shahiean, Oshin Shahiean, Nagesh Jain and Dr Lusine Navasardyan can assist you in obtaining a UK Sponsor Licence or Tier 2 (General) or Tier 2 (Intra-company Transfer) Visa.
If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this blog, please phone our London office on 0203 959 9123.