7th January 2023

Tweaking policies and attracting migrant workers to address UK skills shortage

Recruitment

The thorny topic of immigration in the UK…

In the run-up to Christmas, it was widely speculated that the UK government would look at ways to tweak immigration policy to make it easier to recruit migrant workers to help plug the UK’s skills gap.

However, from a political perspective, the collision of three very different aspects of migration makes major policy changes highly sensitive and risky.

The first two Tory governments of 2022 proved disastrous, characterised by scandal, infighting, and prioritising self-interest above the needs of the country. This damaged the esteem of the UK around the world. The need to rehabilitate the image of Conservative rule is essential if the Tories are to have any hope of re-election. 

Making migration easier runs the risk of further distancing the Conservative government from many of the voters who gave it such a strong mandate at the last general election.

But relaxing the rules to make migrant worker recruitment easier is precisely what some leaders and observers of the recruitment sector believe is needed to pave the way out of recession and help rebuild economic success.

Relaxing immigration controls in a targeted way

With in excess of 1.2 million vacancies currently open, the ONS says skills shortages are continuing to escalate. The worst affected sectors are in care, science, engineering and hospitality. Some of the skills shortages can be attributed to post-Covid physical and mental health problems and record NHS treatment waiting times, rendering many unable to work. 

Utilising overseas workers is an obvious way forward and it is already done selectively, targeting and assisting those that have the skills and abilities to contribute to economic recovery. Tweaking these existing schemes and initiatives to reduce the barriers to entry could further boost migrant worker recruitment in the UK.

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