The Government are being urged to provide businesses with greater reassurances over their ability to recruit migrant workers after plans for a new post-Brexit immigration system were unveiled.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced proposals which include the removal of a cap for medium and high-skilled workers on the number of work visas issued, widening of the skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent of A levels and ending requirements for resident labour market tests by employers who wish to sponsor a worker.
The Home Office say the new immigration and borders system, which will signal the end of free movement, is to be implemented in a phased approach from 2021.
Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said that while the white paper offers some positives – such as the increased flexibility on the skill levels of workers – it doesn’t go far enough in reassuring businesses.
Chief executive Paul Faulkner (pictured) said: “Across Greater Birmingham, and in all sectors, many businesses rely on EEA workers to fill vacancies they cannot recruit for within the UK.
“The immigration proposals released today reflect some consideration of business needs, but may not go far enough in reassuring these businesses.
“Increased flexibility on the skill levels of workers is a positive offer from the government, however the wider application of immigration charges to both employers and applicants will certainly be seen as yet a further burden on businesses.
“The consultation on the white paper in the New Year will be absolutely key in ensuring that post-Brexit immigration works for businesses, the UK economy, and applicants.
“The government must ensure that the proposed temporary worker scheme is a practicable facilitation for companies recruiting seasonal workers from the EEA, and we will be calling for the arbitrary salary threshold to be reduced, so as to reflect real-world conditions across the whole of the country.
“In the midst of any discussion on what Brexit will mean for the UK and for businesses, post-Brexit immigration is a dominating theme. It is crucial for the future of the UK, its communities and its economy that the immigration system adequately addresses the needs of businesses, and the Chambers invite the Home Office to visit Greater Birmingham and consult with interested members.
“I would also invite any businesses concerned about the impact of Brexit on their organisation to complete the GBCC’s quick, easy and free Business Brexit Health Check.
“This will offer the key information they need and a personalised report with suggested steps for preparing for Brexit related risks or taking up opportunities.”