No visas for low-skilled workers forces businesses to 'invest in retention and productivity'

Immigration plans following Brexit, will not allow low-skilled workers to obtain visas which the Government has said will push employers to “move away” from being dependent on “cheap labour” from Europe and “invest more in to retention, productivity, technology and automation.”

By not opening up a pathway for low-skilled workers the Government feels as if it is pushing businesses to “adapt and adjust” to the end of free movement between the European Union (EU) and the UK.

The Government holds the opinion that the 3.2 million EU citizens who have applied to stay in the UK following Brexit can assist in meeting labour demands.

The immigration plans will outline, how an individual has to hit 70 points, they will be offered 20 points for a job offer, 20 points for a job at an appropriate skill level, 10 points for speaking English and 20 points for having a PhD in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject.

On the 14/02/20 during Boris Johnson’s first reshuffled cabinet meeting, it was announced that the UK will be adopting a points-based immigration system from the 1st January 2021, which is thought to reduce the amount of low-skilled EU migrants by 90,000 a year.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, had a mixed response to the plans and said:

The new migration restrictions should enable many organisations to continue to meet their skills needs, albeit with more bureaucracy and cost. On the plus side, employers will be particularly relieved to see the government agree to a lower minimum salary threshold of £25,600 and an even lower threshold for shortage occupations.

However, employers with large numbers of low-paid staff will have real concerns that the new system will worsen existing labour shortages – given the only routes for low skilled migrant labour will be through the dependents of skilled migrants and the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Another significant concern is that most organisations seem completely unprepared for the bureaucracy and cost of the incoming points-based system. This includes the cost of visas for both recruiting overseas nationals and short-term business visits. Employers therefore need to get up to speed with the new system quickly and adapt their workforce planning strategy accordingly.

All organisations will also have to ensure they maximise their ability to recruit, train and retain a more diverse UK-born workforce, which will mean investing more in how they manage and develop their people.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) supports some of the new proposed immigration systems but is fearful that the reduction in low-skilled workers will result in some businesses to be “left wondering how they will recruit the people needed to run their businesses.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI said:

Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their workforce and new technologies is not an ‘either or’ choice – both are needed to drive the economy forward.

The Royal College of Nursing raised concerns that these proposals will “not meet the health and care needs of the population” and Unison, the public service union, general secretary, Christina McAnea thinks this plan can cause havoc for the care sector.