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60% expect to be negatively affected by post-Brexit immigration plans

This week (18th February) the government announced its post-Brexit immigration plans. Effective from 1st January 2021, this will see the introduction of a points-based system, meaning that while high-skilled workers will be able to enter the UK, low-skilled workers will not.

The criteria for entering the UK for work include speaking English at a required level, offer of a job by an approved sponsor, and a job at an appropriate skill level. There are also measures around salary, with a proposed general salary requirement of £25,600 or above.

A survey by Zoek found that 55% were concerned about closing the door on low-skilled workers. 60% said the requirements will negatively affect their business. Suits Me conducted a survey which also highlighted concern. 30% felt the plans would affect their business with 20% agreeing it would be significantly damaging to the industries they supply staff to. 60% revealed that between 0 and 49% of the candidate workforce would be affected by the requirements.

One of Suits Me’s business partners commented, “We currently provide European workers to various companies in the industrial sector. In terms of automation and technology, it will be extremely difficult to replace the manual process of certain production roles, particularly with some of the contract packing where the manual process can vary with up to 30 different product per day. Furthermore, the fact that some of the largest corporations with the funds to invest in technology and robotics choose not to certainly speaks volumes.”

Managing director of Zoek, Diana Campbell, commented, “Fully perceiving the need for low-skilled workers, it is acknowledged that they are as vital by any economy as high-skill people are. Remaining close to SME’s, LSE’s, charities and recruitment agencies nationwide, Zoek will keep investing in creating opportunities on a vast scale. We aim to offer a premium, yet affordable candidate recruitment solution based on a cutting-edge AI technology and a newly introduced pay-per-application service model.”

Lewis Richards, director of WR Engineering, added, “While there were concerns that the end of free movement of labour would severely exacerbate talent shortages which are already prevalent across the engineering sector, news that the salary threshold will be significantly lower for SOL occupations will offer some welcome relief for the clients we work with. 

“However, with a recent study from EngineeringUK suggesting that the sector will need an additional 186,000 skilled recruits each year until 2024 in order to ease talent shortages, relying on immigration alone will not solve the impending skills crisis.   

“The new points-based immigration system may keep the wolves from the door for now. However, long-term, individual businesses must explore how they can best attract the next generation of professionals to the sector, and retain and upskill their existing employees, to ensure that their talent pipelines are resilient to future demand.”

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