Migration Watch UK have today issued a paper (EU Immigration, Post-Brexit – A Comprehensive Policy) on the prospect for temporary visas for EU migrants to work in jobs at lower skill levels than presently required for admission of non-EU nationals, such as bricklaying, plumbing and construction among others, for a maximum of three years after Brexit.
A whole range of employers are claiming that they will have a continuing need for EU workers after Brexit.
Some of these claims are exaggerated as there is no evidence so far that significant numbers of EU workers are leaving Britain.
In any case, replacements for those who leave would not add to net migration.
The long term answer is clearly to train British workers but the record shows that this will not happen until it is in the financial interests of employers to do so.
Meanwhile, there will be a need for a period of implementation for whatever migration arrangements are decided during the Brexit process.
Continued access for a period to some skills will be important.
For example, it will not be possible to build the houses we need without bricklayers and plumbers, many of whom now come from the EU.
Equally, it is important that employers train up British workers.
Migration Watch UK have therefore recommended the introduction of an “EU Skills Shortage Visa” for EU workers.
It would be valid for not more than three years with a levy, payable by employers, which would increase each year. There would be no route to settlement and no in-work benefits, tax credits or housing benefit.
Commenting, Mr Alp Mehmet, Vice-Chairman of Migration Watch UK said: “We have recommended that EU workers be included in the current arrangements for entry to highly-skilled jobs but without a cap. We have also suggested “Barista Visas” for young Europeans. We now propose these “Brickie Visas” which would meet a genuine need for a few years but with strong financial incentives for employers to train British workers. Training outside the workplace has fallen off a cliff since 2000. Employers must now step up to the mark.”
Note to editors: At present non-EU workers must be offered a job at Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) level 6 (graduate level) paying a minimum of £30,000 per year (£20,800 per year for new entrants) to be qualified for a Tier 2 (General) visa.