Think-tank calls for Tier 2 system to control EU skills

A similar system to the existing Tier 2 programme should be put in place for skilled EU migrants coming to work in Britain post-Brexit, suggests Migration Watch UK.

Migration Watch UK suggests TIer 2 system for EU workers post-Brexit
A visa system akin to the current Tier 2 programme for workers coming to Britain from outside the European Economic Area should be put in place for skilled EU migrants after Britain leaves the bloc, an influential, right-wing think-tank urged on Wednesday.

Migration Watch UK

Migration Watch UK said Britain should aim to retain visa-free travel with the other 27 European Union member states after Brexit but introduce a work permit programme for skilled employees.However, in a change of tone for an organisation that had previously advocated a complete ban on unskilled labour coming from the EU, Migration Watch said a 'key workers' programme might be needed for a few years to allow in limited numbers of low-paid EU labourers to enable employers in some sectors to adjust to their loss. 

'Hard Brexit' and the UK construction industry

The report coincided with the publication of consultancy study warning that the UK construction industry could find itself short of 200,000-plus unskilled and semi-skilled workers if a 'hard Brexit' resulted in a complete ban on the movement of labour.Migration Watch accepted that some less-skilled Poles and Romanians were “essential to particular sectors of the economy” and, also, that giving them a transitional agreement enabling them to work in the UK could be critical in currying favour with eastern European leaders during Brexit negotiations.

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Migration Watch UK vice chairman Alp Mehmet said, "Boris Johnson was right to make it clear that we are leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe. It is important that we retain and develop our many links with Europe, while also tackling a significant part of the mass migration that has been so troubling for the British public."

Home Office says no running commentary on negotiations

The organisation also called on ministers to spell out publicly what their aims would be on migration policies during the Brexit negotiations, but a Home Office spokesman said, "Government has been clear that, as we conduct our negotiations, it must be a priority to regain more control of the numbers of people who come here from Europe. It would not be right for us to give a running commentary on negotiations." Meanwhile, a report from the Arcadis consultancy on the construction industry concluded the sector could lose more than 200,000 workers in the event of a hard Brexit – and as many as 135,000 even if there is a 'soft Brexit' allowing some movement of labour. The report pointed out that construction, unlike other industries, remains heavily reliant on unskilled and semi-skilled workers and is already facing a labour shortage. James Bryce, Arcadis director of workforce planning, said, "What started as a skills gap could soon become a skills gulf. The British construction sector has been built on overseas labour for generations, and restrictions of any sort will hit the industry."Missing out on over 200,000 people entering the workforce could mean rising costs for business and much-needed homes and transport networks being delayed."

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