An 'army' of Indian workers ready to ease UK labour shortages

An ‘army’ of Indian workers is ready to help ease the UK’s acute labour shortages, if the PM manages to flesh out a free trade deal with India.

boris with president of india

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks through Hyderabad House with Prime Minister Modi.

Visa and immigration advisers are preparing for a massive influx of inquiries ahead of a deal, which could be in place as soon as November.

Boris Johnson met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to discuss a deal last week. Any concessions agreed on immigration will give the UK ‘a golden opportunity’ to patch up its labour shortage and enter a new era of immigration, post-Brexit, according to experts.

Mr Johnson is keen to secure a beneficial trade deal with India and with a liberalised points based immigration system now in place, the prime minister could issue a visa offer to India to make it easier for workers from India to come and work in the UK.

Immigration expert Yash Dubal, Director of  A Y & J Solicitors, said: “Britain is facing an unprecedented shortage of labour. Businesses in all sectors are struggling to fill vacancies meanwhile in India there is an army of willing workers prepared to come to the UK, work, pay taxes and contribute to society. We have no shortage of inquiries from clients hoping to attain work visas for the UK.

“Despite some political reticence from the UK to link a trade deal to immigration, it would be a golden opportunity to ease the country’s labour woes. Given how desperate the situation is in many industries, we should be inviting in as many workers as needed. Rather than debate numbers and conditions, Boris should be rolling out the welcome mat.”

While Mr Johnson admitted that the UK is short of workers “to the hundreds of thousands in our economy” and said he has “always been in favour of having people coming to this country”, he also maintained that any new immigration deal with India would have to be “controlled” and that it would focus only on skilled workers, in fields such as IT.

Official figures from the Office of National Statistics show that more than 1.3million job posts were unfilled over the winter, as wages have fallen in real terms and older people have left the workforce. These record levels of job vacancies have been described by Suren Thiru at the British Chambers of Commerce as a sign of “chronic imbalance in the UK labour market”.

Despite Mr Johnson’s insistence that the new immigration regime should be focussed solely on highly skilled workers, the salary cap for immigrant workers has been lowered by the government by 30%, from £35,800 to £25,600. Meanwhile the skills threshold for foreign nationals has been lowered from degree to A-levels, or their foreign equivalent, and the resident labour market test has been abolished.

Many UK’s job vacancies are in hospitality, where there is an extreme shortage of staff, due to a 700% rise in vacancies in the industry. Hotels and restaurants are reported to have been offering salaries of up to £85,000, with £5,000 sign-on bonuses to chefs from India in recent days, thanks to the lowering of restrictions for skilled worker visas.

Mr Dubal continues: “There are several new visa routes being introduced this year designed to attract workers from the tech and fintech sectors, but a failure to address the acute shortages in the lower skilled sectors of the British economy is short sighted. Any deal with India should make sure all levels of workers can have access to the UK.”
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