The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) claims that Britain urgently needs migrant workers.
CBI’s Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, has told MPs that Britain’s borders must remain open to foreign labour. The UK’s high demand for low skilled labour cannot be met without it, she argues.
Much of the debate since June’s EU referendum result have centred on what Britain’s post-Brexit migration rules might be. Often such debate has focused on maintaining the availability of highly skilled workers from abroad. The NHS and the financial sector are two areas where there has been increasing concern.
Low-skilled labour is vital
The CBI is warning of equally serious issues on the horizon when it comes to low-skilled labour. The business group points to the fact that certain sectors are highly reliant on migrant labour. Lower skilled migrants are vital for agriculture, caring for the elderly and construction.
Seasonal fruit picking and care work are often jobs that British workers are unwilling to do. Migrant workers are used to fill these gaps. Another issue, it seems, is the unwillingness of young British workers to move around the country to look for work.
Young Britons not getting on their bikes
Unemployed young people are reluctant to go out and search for jobs. So while there are areas of the country with low unemployment, many young people aren’t prepared to travel to other regions to find work.
Co-chair of campaign group Leave Means Leave and former British Chambers of Commerce leader, John Longworth, suggests that foreign workers should only be recruited until UK workers have been trained to do the jobs where there are labour shortages.
Where we may always need foreign workers, Longworth favours a work permit system. He backs permits for low-skilled migrants, rather than the current situation of them arriving in the UK before finding work.