The number of EU migrants arriving in the UK has dropped significantly since new restrictions were introduced, according to official figures. However, officials have warned that fewer EU migrants coming to the UK means that British businesses could face further recruitment problems without more temporary UK immigration routes.
The official figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that UK employers now recruit most of their skilled workers from outside of the EU via the Skilled Worker Visa route – previously known as the Tier 2 visa.
In the 12 months to September 2021, nationals from five non-EU countries were among those to be granted the most Skilled Worker Visas. According to the data, skilled workers from India (53,295), the Philippines (8,925), Nigeria (8,646), the US (6,483) and Pakistan (3,743) are arriving in the UK in high numbers to take up skilled job roles.
The figures also show that two in five (42%) of sponsored Skilled Worker Visa applications were made for roles in the health and care sector, while 16% were for IT roles.
Meanwhile, a huge 73% of people arriving in the UK for seasonal work were from the Ukraine, while other nations that make up most grants from this UK immigration route are also outside the EU, including Russia (1,862 or 8%), Belarus (853 or 3%) and Moldova (706 or 3%).
Commenting on the statistics, Nicole Inge, employment and skills director at Business in the Community said: “While the places workers are coming from has slightly changed, the UK’s talent pool is still full of diverse candidates.”
However, she did suggest that British employers must ensure that they have the right policies and practices in place to support those facing barriers such as language or cultural differences in the workplace.
In the post-Brexit era, British employers have found it increasingly difficult to hire staff, particularly those in the hospitality and retail sectors, which have predominantly relied on EU workers. However, under new UK immigration rules, skill levels for roles in these sectors are considered ‘too low’ to warrant a Skilled Worker Visa.
Concern for the Bank of England
According to the CIPD’s senior labour market adviser, Gerwyn Davies, fewer EU migrants arriving in the UK will also be a ‘big concern’ for the Bank of England. He said: “Fewer EU migrants may contribute to mounting recruitment difficulties which, together with the current surge in price inflation, may lead to a pay-price spiral.”
“The findings reinforce the case for the immediate introduction of a temporary immigration safety valve, via a unilateral youth mobility scheme for young EU citizens, to help alleviate rising labour and skills shortages,” he added.
Davies argued that a temporary UK immigration route aligned with a youth mobility scheme for young EU nationals would mean that a limited number of young EU citizens would be allowed to enter the UK without a job offer and search for work.
According to Davies, this would appeal to many UK employers who are put off by using the UK immigration system because of the administrative burden that comes with it.
Youth Mobility Visas
According to the data, the number of Youth Mobility Visas, which are issued to nationals from a limited number of countries such as Australia and Canada, granted in the 12 months to September 2021 was 38% lower than the previous year.
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