Government Eyes Easing UK Visa Rules

Will liberalising immigration rules attract the overseas skills that the UK needs?

Attracting overseas skills
The new UK government is giving active consideration to liberalising immigration rules in a bid to attract the overseas skills it needs.For the first time this year, the number of job vacancies in the country - about 1.3 million - has exceeded the number of people registered as unemployed.The government's independent experts on the Migration Advisory Board are currently reviewing what changes are needed to professions and skills on the Shortage Occupation List (SOL), which could make it easier for overseas workers to obtain visas.Within days of becoming prime minister earlier this month, Liz Truss face renewed calls from leading business figures to expand jobs on the SOL.Sectors facing labour shortages range from the tech industry and financial services - both of which have voiced frustration over a visa system that has made it difficult to hire the foreign talent they need - to the hospitality industry and agriculture, which have suffered labour shortages since Brexit.
Downing Street has not denied press reports that the government is looking at plans to make it easier for foreign workers to move to the UK.“We need to put measures in place so that we have the right skills that the economy, including the rural economy, needs to stimulate growth," a government spokesman told the Sun, which first reported the initiative.“That will involve increasing numbers in some areas and decreasing in others. As the prime minister has made clear, we also want to see people who are economically inactive get back into work.”
Ms Truss has said that she is “unapologetic” about “focusing relentlessly on economic growth”, even if that means implementing policies that might prove unpopular with some sections of her own Conservative Party.The Sunday Times reported that, in the coming weeks, the government is expected to raise the cap on the numbers of seasonal, overseas agricultural labourers allowed into the country, as well as expanding the SOL to meet the needs of various, higher-skilled professional sectors."Truss has told colleagues that she is keen to recruit overseas broadband engineers to support the government's pledge to make full-fibre broadband available to 85per cent of UK homes by 2025," the newspaper added."It has also been suggested that she could ease the English language requirement in some sectors to enable more foreign workers to qualify for visas."
There have also been reports that the government is looking at new visa routes for graduates from the world's top universities.As reported by earlier this month, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) used Ms Truss's victory to renew its call for the new prime minister to adopt a five-point plan to reinvigorate the UK economy, including a liberalisation of the SOL.Simultaneously, the finance industry called on the new government to relax short-term business mobility rules to enable foreign business leaders to conduct more activities when they visited the UK.

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