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Aggressive immigration policies prolonging skills shortage

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Government has received only 27 applications for temporary work visas

In response to the Government’s announcement regarding the granting of temporary visas to workers in the transport industry, Marian Khaliq, Partner and Head of Immigration at law firm Bishop and Sewel, said that the Government’s hostile post-Brexit immigration policies are responsible for prolonging the shortage of HGV drivers.

Khaliq said: “The Government was forced to act quickly after the shortage of HGV drivers recently resulted in fuel shortages, panic buying and the closure of some petrol stations.

“Other sectors, such as the food industry, have also been affected by labour issues, resulting in shortages of food supplies to supermarkets and restaurants, leading to fears of some foods being unavailable at Christmas.

“To deal with this, the Government will be issuing 4,700 ‘Seasonal Worker’ visas for drivers in the food haulage sector (expiring on 28 February 2022) and 5,500 ‘Seasonal Worker’ visas for poultry workers (which will expire on 31 December 2021). In both instances, the period of visa free access offered appears far too short to incentivise workers to come to the UK.”

Boris Johnson confirmed earlier this week that the Government had only received 27 applications. Other visas in the temporary seasonal worker category are usally granted for six months. Currently it’s estimated there is a labour shortfall of around 100,000 lorry drivers – triggered by an exodus of foreign nationals during the pandemic, coupled with post-Brexit immigration rules, and self-isolation requirements. The huge number of driver vacancies has been compounded by more general labour shortages affecting meat packing and fruit picking jobs – jobs previously done by EU nationals ­– which have impacted stock levels in supermarkets and fast-food chains.

Mariam continued: “The retail industry warned the government that, unless it took immediate measures to alleviate an acute shortage of haulage drivers, significant disruption was inevitable in the run-up to the Christmas season. In our new post-Brexit world, it is likely we will see the same labour shortage issues occur in other industries, unless the UK Government ceases with its inherently hostile attitude towards immigration.”

Photo courtesy of Canva.com

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