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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Are we facing post-Brexit labour shortages?

Having written a few days ago about possible food shortages and price hikes in the supermarkets, I was not surprised this morning to see predictions that the government's new immigration rules could lead to staff shortages, from logistics to food and hospitality to health and social care.

The Guardian reports that business groups have warned that major industries would face a shortage of vital workers after the government outlined its new points-based immigration system to limit the number of low-skilled workers coming to the UK:

Unions said the care system would be “on its knees” should the policy be introduced without further reductions in the minimum salary, which ministers set at £25,600 unless migrants can show they have a job offer in a “shortage occupation” or have a relevant PhD.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said the application process needed to be “radically simplified” if small and medium-sized businesses were to navigate the system. The Institute of Directors said it was concerned the UK’s “economic dynamism” would be harmed while the CBI said the system would need to be flexible to keep pace with changes in the job market.

Businesses including transport and warehousing, food processing and tourism warned the rules would have a drastic impact on businesses and trade.

Beverly Dixon, of G’s Fresh, a Cambridgeshire farming business that sells more than a billion packs of salad and vegetable crops to major UK supermarkets each year, said the firm could now face severe staff shortages next year.

G’s could face a shortage of around 1,000 pickers for the 2021 harvest, she said, adding: “The immigration policy-points based system is unlikely to include workers at the skill level that the government categorise our roles as – which is low skilled. The English language level would also be a concern.”

The Freight Transport Association said it would exacerbate an existing shortage of HGV drivers, whose average salary is above the threshold but who are classified as level 2 or unskilled workers. Around 13% of HGV drivers are currently recruited from the EU, and the FTA said a further 59,000 drivers were needed. Warehousing would also be affected, with forklift truck and van drivers in particularly short supply.

Sally Gilson, head of skills at the FTA, said: “I don’t understand why they are setting an arbitrary level for skills and salary when it should surely be based on what the country needs. These are jobs that Britain relies on to keep goods and trade moving.

“Logistics hubs are in areas of low unemployment, so it’s not a case of being able to train up local people to take those roles.”

Nick Allen, chief executive of the British Meat Processors Association, said the industry was “deeply concerned”. He said that 60%-70% of workers in meat plants were non-UK labour, who typically come and work for two to three years, and they would be blocked by the new proposals.

“They quickly get trained and go above that salary cap. Our concern is getting access to that sort of person … We struggle to get that on the home market. The only option will be slowing down how many animals we can take in, it will disrupt the whole supply chain from farm gate to consumer – costs for farmers, and shortages of food on the shelves.”

The travel industry association Abta said that immigration was crucial to ensure the workforce it needed, with the number of non-UK nationals working in travel and tourism nearly a third higher than the UK average.

He warned that up to 15,000 UK employees working abroad could also lose their jobs if reciprocal protections with the EU were jettisoned, adding extra burdens on travel businesses. “Travel reps and other vital support staff are posted abroad to provide valuable services to UK travellers in EU destinations. The [Posted Workers] directive also allows EU staff to support tourists visiting the UK.”

All of this raises one fundamental question of course: what is the point of taking back control if you are too incompetent to do anything with it other than wreck the country's economy?
1st thougthts---.Will businesses increase UK training which will put up costs (but we should train our own).
However some jobs need more training than others,therefore shortages.
*8 million UK people 'economic inactive' (age 16 to 64).Are they all in the right places. Will they be interested in getting up at 4 in the morning to pick fruit and veg?
Record employment they say with unemployed down. Therefore shortages of our OWN people.
With all the rules and regulations of this points system will 'forinners' want to come?
Does not sound good.
Remember it is all about Brexiteers getting completely clear of the EU NO MATTER WHAT regardless of risking wrecking the economy
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