The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a business organisation that speaks on behalf of 190,000 UK businesses, has today claimed that the immigration rules after Brexit could be detrimental to firms’ productivity and survival. This article has been written by Olivia Bridge.
In the CBI’s annual survey, 72 per cent of 304 businesses encompassing 830,000 employees expressed that restricted access to skills is currently the biggest threat to industries across the country.
Businesses fear limited access to talent pools could injure labour market competitiveness with a further 55 per cent identifying access to labour as a key challenge to overcome. 48 per cent claimed to be concerned over the manoeuvrability of staff across the EU.
The CBI stress the dire need for an immigration model that is fit for everyone. However, nearly three in five businesses surveyed claim they will be negatively impacted by a complex immigration system. Over half think the UK is about to become less attractive to emigrate to in the next five years – a pull-factor 90 per cent of firms claim to be vital or important for competitiveness and job creation.
“It’s clear what’s weighing heavy on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system.”Matthew Fell, CBI Chief
However, the most alarming discovery made by the CBI in its 2019 Employment Trends Survey (ETS) found 65 per cent of respondents already believe the UK’s labour market is less attractive than what it was 2014-15, the highest proportion recorded in its 22 year-long assessment.
The survey is revealed as emotions are already running high around the country’s immigration vision after Brexit. The newly emboldened Home Office hopes to make numerous reforms to the system, vowing to end Free Movement between the EU member states once and for all and to impose a set of rules for new EU entrants as of 2021.
The Conservative’s have not been shy in expressing their desire for an Australian points-based-system, a model which, according to many immigration experts including Corporate Services Manager, Rheba Glazier, is not all it lives up to be as it has “been in force for some time”.
Already, non-EU foreign migrants must accumulate points and pass qualifying criteria in order to gain entry clearance into the UK. These points could be gained based on their salary, investment plans, experience, English language abilities and personal savings.
As it currently stands with only former Prime Minister Theresa May’s Immigration White Paper to draw upon, the immigration rulebook will be tweaked slightly and EEA nationals will face the same ramifications and friction to come and enter, work and live in the UK.
For businesses, this means forking out Skills Employment Charges, paying and meeting Sponsor Licence requirements and offering better benefits for foreign workers to come and work in their field. It makes competition significantly harder as EU employees will be faced with moving to the UK, paying extortionate visa fees and jumping through hoops to gain points – without any guarantees that they can bring family members with them – when they could take up a career in the remaining EU member states for free and without hassle.
Now, it would appear businesses might actually be starved of skills and lucrative opportunities after Brexit
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director said:
“The UK’s labour market has remained remarkably resilient in the face of tougher economic conditions and uncertainty. But job growth is showing signs of tailing off and businesses are becoming more concerned about the competitiveness of the UK labour market.
“It’s clear what’s weighing heavy on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system.”
Fell claims a partnership between businesses and the Government is vital to support the UK labour market and the economy. A cooperative method would certainly safeguard British lifeline industries from falling under.
“Whatever the final shape of the new immigration system, it needs to be simple from its first day of introduction and allow firms to access both the labour and skills they need to grow”, he continued.
The news comes as only months ago UK firms and businesses were threatening to leave the UK under a Labour government. Now, it would appear businesses might actually be starved of skills and lucrative opportunities after Brexit – and may very well be hounded out of work entirely under a Conservative one.
It presents a very grave warning to the future stability of the UK and industries which provide a backbone to the prosperity of the economy and country at large. Whatever the outcome, businesses need clarity around the future immigration plans – and they need it now.
Header image by https://unsplash.com/@thedolapo