To fight protracted shortages in the building industry, the United Kingdom government is apparently proposing to loosen its immigration restrictions for foreigners.
According to a February 9 story by The Financial Times, the easy visa policy will address labor shortages because encouraging Britons to return to work will not suffice to fill labor shortfalls.
The Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government on immigration, has recommended that tradespeople including carpenters, bricklayers and roofers be added to the “shortage occupation list,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
The list allows employers to bring in foreign workers on a lower salary threshold than the usual “skilled worker” level and pay lower visa fees.
According to the article, British Ministers are considering the committee’s recommendations.
The decision may enrage the ruling Conservative Party, as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared a crackdown on illegal migration just a few weeks ago.
According to the latest available data, the number of working-age adults who are neither employed nor seeking for work has increased by 520,000 since February 2020. This is just going to get worse: According to the Office for National Statistics’ March 2023 estimate, there would be 726,000 more inactive persons in the UK aged 16 to 64 years old by 2026 than before the pandemic.
Current jobs on the shortage occupation list include health and care workers, civil engineers, vets and architects.
A government spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “We work closely with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to ensure our points-based system delivers for the UK and works in the best interests of the economy, by prioritising the skills and talent we need and encouraging long-term investment in the domestic workforce.
“This includes reviewing the shortage occupation list to ensure it reflects the current labour market. The MAC has published its call for evidence and we encourage all interested parties to respond.”