Commenting on the Government’s immigration proposals, Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: 

“Just the act of ending freedom of movement and introducing a work visa system for EU nationals, however flexible that system is, is likely to put a sharp brake on EU immigration given the extra costs and bureaucracy the system will place on employers and individuals. Consequently, plans to streamline the process, making it easier for employers to sponsor migrant workers eligible to work in the UK, will be key to the system being much more user-friendly for organisations of different sizes and across different sectors.

“It’s crucial that the Government is in full listening mode during the consultation and we welcome the intention to engage businesses and employers on the level of the proposed salary threshold for skilled and intermediate skilled workers. It is also encouraging that there is a recognition of the need for employers to be able to continue to recruit low skilled EU workers after Brexit through a new route for temporary short-term workers of any skill level. However, this proposal needs to be further developed on the basis of employer insights.

“Policy makers must recognise that the UK is already a less attractive place for EU workers to live and work in, evidenced by the fall in net migration of EU workers to the UK in recent months. Unless the concerns and insights from employers are fully taken on board, these proposals might really be a case of closing the stable door after the horses have stopped coming.”

On skills policy:

“Given future restrictions on EU migrants coming to live and work in UK, the Government must ensure that UK skills policy genuinely supports and encourages employers to invest more in how they manage and develop their people. We need to see a fundamental review of the apprenticeship levy to make it a more flexible training levy so employers address genuine skills shortages and boost investment in life-long learning.”


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