CBI urges overhaul of skills visa system

The UK's largest business organisation is calling on the government to create an independent body with powers to decide what overseas skills should be on the nation's Shortage Occupation List.

Digital map of the UK
At present, government ministers determine what professions should be on the priority visa list, with decisions frequently based on recommendations from its Migration Advisory Committee.

CBI calls for a Council of Future Skills and a new Skills Challenge Fund

But in a speech to business leaders and policy-makers, Tony Danker, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), called for creation of a Council for Future Skills, which would not only have powers to optimise training towards future economic demand, but would set the Shortage Occupation List and recommend where the nation needs visas for international skills to overcome shortages in home-grown talent.In a wide-ranging speech in which he focused on government economic policies that seemed to offer only "a future of low growth and high taxes", Mr Danker called for the replacement of the current Apprenticeship Levy paid by firms with a new Skills Challenge Fund.Such a fund, he said, would ensure the UK catches up with European average skills investment by offering more flexible training that would meet skill shortages and would reward firms that invested beyond their current Apprenticeship Levy levels.“Today, at every level, in every sector, and in every part of the country, firms are facing acute skills shortages," said Mr Danker. "And the government is saying we can’t import them, we have to grow them - overnight!“Nadhim Zahawi, the Education Secretary, is on to something by announcing a new Unit for Future Skills, designed to look at the data and evidence of where skills gaps exist and in what industries.“Let’s supercharge the plans, break out of the current silos, and build an independent Council for Future Skills. It would take a holistic look at our workforce needs for today and tomorrow, and then work out how government policies can fulfil them."It would optimise training towards future economic demand. And it would give independent recommendations on where we will need visas for international skills to overcome shortages in home-grown talent. It would, therefore, set the Shortage Occupation List.”
Related reading from Relocate Global

UK government urged to increase economic growth targets

On the economy, Mr Danker attacked the government's acceptance of a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility of economic growth of only 1.3 and 1.7% in the coming years. He called on ministers to set their sights on a target of between 2.0-2.5%.“And what’s truly worrying is that the government has accepted the forecast as the target - the trajectory as the potential. Everything the government is currently trying, to get growth going, merely achieves a new normal of low growth.“We have low-balled the UK. It’s in our numbers, and it’s in our plans. But at the CBI, we think we can do better.”

CBI calls for the introduction of a permanent Investment Deduction scheme

Aside from overhauling the immigration and skills training systems, Mr Danker said the government should introduce a permanent Investment Deduction scheme that would give companies 100% tax deductions for capital spending; incentivise investment in green business initiatives; and establish an Office for Future Regulation "to support a regulatory framework that is future-focused, agile and dynamic for post-Brexit Britain".

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles