The United Kingdom government is reportedly planning on relaxing its visa policy for foreigners to combat prolonged shortages in the construction industry.
According to a Match 9 report by The Financial Times, the easy visa policy will address labour shortages because encouraging Britons to return to work will not be enough to bridge the labour gaps.
The Migration Advisory Committee, which advises the government on immigration, has recommended that tradespeople including carpenters, bricklayers and roofers be added to the “shortage occupation list,” according to a person familiar with the matter.
The list allows employers to bring in foreign workers on a lower salary threshold than the usual “skilled worker” level and pay lower visa fees.
The report adds that British Ministers are weighing up the proposals from the committee.
The move could spark controversy in the ruling Conservative Party as the UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared a crackdown on illegal migration few weeks ago.
The number of working-age people neither in work nor looking for a job since February 2020 has risen by 520,000, according to the most recent data. That’s set to get worse: By 2026 there will be 726,000 more inactive people in the UK aged between 16 and 64 years old than before the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics said in it’s March 2023 report
Current jobs on the shortage occupation list include health and care workers, civil engineers, vets and architects.
A government spokesperson said in an emailed statement, “We work closely with the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to ensure our points-based system delivers for the UK and works in the best interests of the economy, by prioritising the skills and talent we need and encouraging long-term investment in the domestic workforce.
“This includes reviewing the shortage occupation list to ensure it reflects the current labour market. The MAC has published its call for evidence and we encourage all interested parties to respond.”