London First and PwC call for immigration action
With Brexit impending, a joint report from PwC and London First urges business to embrace the opportunity to shape an immigration policy that works for the UK’s economy, citizens and business, writes Nadia Idries.
Immigration has been pivotal in the economic growth of the UK with 5.6m foreign workers (of which 2.3m are from the European Economic Area (EEA)) being employed all over the country across sectors at all skill and salary levels.
The UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019 will have significant economic and political impact including from an immigration perspective. To ensure the continued economic growth of the UK, the government must ensure that any post-Brexit immigration system addresses public concerns around migration, while allowing business to access people, talent and skills from anywhere in the world.
On 26 November 2018 PwC and London First launched their report 'Global Britain: A fair and managed immigration system fit for the post-Brexit economy'. The report supports the government’s starting point that any new immigration system should not discriminate by country of origin, unless part of a wider trade deal.
It does, however, call for an overhaul of the current immigration system so that it is pro-growth, pragmatic and efficient, and aligned to the UK’s Industrial Strategy. In devising the new immigration system, the report calls upon the government to learn from the experience of other advanced nations that are facing similar challenges to the UK.
With the UK economy at near full employment and many businesses experiencing skills shortages, business needs to be able to access workers from overseas and have time to adjust to new rules around hiring lower skilled EU workers. The report, therefore, outlines three key areas for action: reform of the Tier 2 visa route, the Shortage Occupation List and how to ensure the right controls and data.
In practice this would mean:
- the Tier 2 route is adapted to manage a broader range of workers including those from the EEA. This would mean creating a new Global Work Route for all foreign workers with no quota system and new skills levels;
- a strategic, data driven approach to the Shortage Occupation List which addresses economic needs; and
- investing in accurate, real time data and the digitisation of the UK immigration system which is overseen by the creation of an independent agency similar to the Office for Budget Responsibility.
With Brexit impending, we must embrace the opportunity to shape an immigration policy that works for British economy, citizens and business.
Nadia Idries is a solicitor and senior manager at PwC.
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