A draft government paper leaked to The Guardian newspaper set out options that the government might be considering when designing the new immigration system that will come into force after the UK leaves the EU in 2019. Commenting on the importance of a new immigration system that is based on evidence and that meets business needs REC chief executive Kevin Green says:
“The UK’s flexible labour market is of huge benefit to our economy and any changes that result in severe reductions in immigration, increased hiring costs or bureaucratic burdens on employers would put that continued success at risk and make all of us worse off.
“It’s important that the government talks to recruiters and employers who understand the realities of various sectors of the labour market and that policy isn’t drafted on the basis of broad terms like ‘low skilled’ and ‘high skilled’ which can be interpreted in many different ways. Applying the criteria used in the current visa system for non-EU workers, sixty per cent of the whole UK work force would be classed as ‘low skilled’ as they earn under the qualifying threshold of £30,000. Severely limiting access to such workers from the EU would mean fewer nurses, electricians and chefs – vacancies that our members say are already hard to fill.
“This is a leaked paper with no formal policy status so we can draw no real conclusions from it. It’s at least reassuring that in this draft the government appears to be committed to engaging with business to decide the details of any new immigration system. To get the best outcome for British workers and British businesses it’s important that the government focuses on evidence-based solutions.”