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Immigration back on the agenda due to labour shortages

Labour shortages have put the immigration debate back on the table. Reem Rudda discusses how some minor immigration changes could help to solve labour shortages.

Reem is a talented Trainee Solicitor that has expertise in Immigration, Family Law, Conveyancing, Litigation and Estate Planning.

One of the key Brexit intentions was to increase wages in ‘low-skilled’ roles by reducing the number of economic migrants, who work for less. However, the CBI is calling for the government to recognise the need to relax immigration rules to help various sectors, defining any new approach based on business needs.

Business is calling out for skilled jobs across sectors, from hospitality to the latest lorry driver shortages. Lack of labour is challenging the UK’s recovery from the pandemic.

Why is there a problem with labour shortages?

Due to several factors including Brexit and the pandemic, the face of the labour force has changed. Business is looking to bounce back, and the market is looking to spend. However, without skilled labour there are gaps in the employment chain.

This is evident in the recent fuel crisis, due to one large fuel retailer having a lack of HGV drivers. The market reacted leading to an increase in demand. All this, despite the government having continually reported there are no shortages in petrol and diesel.

This crisis brings back the leave-remain debate. Leavers within the government believe that higher wages would naturally attract new workers. Remainers, on the other hand, believe that immigration from the EU could ease the pressure.

Can labour market shortages be solved with immigration changes?

Following Brexit, there have been over two hundred changes to the immigration rules to cut down migration from the EU. If the government and more importantly the Home Office review and amend the rules with incentives for migrants to fill the employment gaps it might enable economic recovery. This could either be a short-term or longer-term strategy.

By reviewing immigration policy and making it more flexible and market-driven would help to fill labour gaps. Overseas workers could solve the issues in the supply chain.

Why do the current immigration rules fall short?

The UK introduced a new points-based immigration system at the turn of 2021 following the end of the transition period. Now, businesses looking to hire foreign labour need to ensure that the individual qualifies with enough points.

Further, employers looking to recruit skilled workers from outside the UK need to apply for a Sponsor Licence. There are 48,023 registered businesses with licenses to sponsor migrants. This is a tiny fraction of the millions of businesses in the UK. It is also reported many do not understand the rules.

The immigration rules also define skilled workers as roles that require a higher education level. This means that many professions might fall short of the points required. The skilled worker list needs updating to include roles where employers are struggling to fill vacancies.

We believe that the government will review the immigration rules to help economic recovery.

How can we help?

Our immigration specialists can review your situation, advise and support any applications required. If you are a business needing a sponsor license or an individual looking to apply for leave to remain, our experts can help. Get in touch today to arrange an initial consultation.