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Brexit – beyond the highly skilled

07 Sep 2017

CaSE reviews the launch event of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration’s report focusing on the migration concerns of SMEs and public sector organisations post-Brexit.

In a vital time for the future of migration in the UK, made perhaps more pertinent by the leak of a Home Office document this week, the APPG on Migration have called address the negative stigma and dangerous rhetoric surrounding a ‘low-skilled’ EU workforce. The report entitled Brexit; beyond the highly skilled – the needs of other economic stakeholders, has shed light on the crucial importance of an available EU workforce to SME’s and public services. Kate Green MP, co-chair of the APPG, remarked on the deeply unfair nature of referring to many professions as low-skilled or unskilled, particularly in such sectors as social care. She also spoke of the need to recognise the contributions that the so-called low-skilled EU workforce makes to public sector, rather than accede to damaging rhetoric of the strain that migrants place on public services.

Fizza Qureshi, Director of Migrants’ Rights Network, said that the current definitions of high and low skilled workers would not yield success in a points-based immigration system, as many of those considered to be low-skilled would not meet the criteria for a Tier 2 work visa. To meet the conditions of a Tier 2 work visa, a prospective worker must be going into a role that is at a ‘graduate-level’, and must earn over a certain salary to be considered. As a result, many roles have found themselves on the wrong side of this divide, meaning currently non-EU workers cannot fill such roles, and major concern has arisen over the future availability of EU/EEA workers to fill these ‘low-skilled’ roles.

The report shows that many SME’s are highly reliant of the freedom of movement of the EU workforce to fill roles that cannot be filled by the domestic UK workforce, and often find that EU workers will be overqualified for the roles that they fill. Currently, the complexity of the Tier 2 visa system means that very few non-EU workers are recruited through the system by SME’s, and similar problems could be seen if EU migration is treated in the same way.

The report contains a series of recommendations for the government with regards to future EU migration, including a bottom-up and top-down review of the level of future EU migration needed for the UK economy, and must begin to clarify its proposals for post-Brexit EU migration to provide reassurances to EU nationals, their families, businesses and employers.

To read the full report, please click here.