Brexit POLL: Should Boris Johnson relax new immigration rules to combat staff shortages?

Ben Habib hits out at 'real villains' over UK immigration

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The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on the Government to update its “shortage occupations list” to include a swathe of other roles which employers are having a tough time filling. Britain’s biggest business lobby group said butchers, welders and bricklayers should be added to the list.

The list currently ranges from scientists, engineers and IT business analysts to web designers, vets and architects.

A number of roles in the arts are also listed included dancers, choreographers and musicians.

However, strict criteria has to be met in order to qualify.

For example, “only skilled classical ballet dancers or skilled contemporary dancers” who meet UK standards fall under the scheme.

Do you think the list should be expanded following the advice of the CBI? Vote in our poll and scroll down to leave a comment to explain your reasons.

The CBI also urged businesses to take greater action to address staff shortages by taking a chance on jobseekers who might otherwise be overlooked.

The group’s call comes as businesses across the country are preparing for a busy season ahead as the lockdown restrictions are lifted.

Hotels, restaurants, bars and hauliers are rushing to hire enough staff to cope with a surge in custom.

CBI President Karan Bilimoria called on the Prime Minister to urgently address the need for a broader workforce.

She said: “Where there are clear, evidenced labour shortages, businesses should be able to hire from overseas. An evolving shortage occupations list could help.

“But it’s really important to stress: workers from overseas aren’t, and shouldn’t be, our only response to labour shortages. Investing in skills here, too, is vital.

“It’s not an either/or choice. We must do both to ensure our firms have the access to people they need to succeed.”

A spokesperson for the Government said “instead of relying on labour from abroad” British employers should be ready and willing to invest in workers from the UK.

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They added: “We’ve implemented an unprecedented package of measures to support businesses during the pandemic and our Plan for Jobs is helping people across the country retrain, build new skills and get back into work.

“We’re also working with industries to better promote jobs, training and a range of other initiatives.

“The Government carefully considered the migration advisory committee’s findings and recommendations on the shortage occupation list, but decided not to make wide-scale changes while we monitor the new skilled worker route and assess how the UK labour market develops and recovers post-pandemic.”

On Wednesday, June 30, EU citizens living in the UK will reach the deadline to apply for EU settled status (EUSS).

Labour has called for a three-month extension to the post-Brexit immigration status confirmation scheme for those from EU member states.

Home Office minister Kevin Foster said more than 5.6 million applications had been received by the end of May.

He said a total of 5.2 million applications have concluded.

He told the Commons: “Whilst the deadline is tomorrow, we will take a pragmatic and flexible approach to considering late applications made after the deadline.”

But shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said thousands of children in care may be falling through gaps in the system.

He said: “Leaked documents suggest that 130,000 people in receipt of benefits have yet to sign-up and that support could be taken away.

“The Children’s Society has estimated that applications have not been made for over 2,000 children in care or care leavers.

“That’s why we on these benches have called for an extension to the EU Settlement Scheme until the end of September.”

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