Britain said on Thursday that it intends to relax visa requirements in order to alleviate labor shortages caused in part by tougher post-Brexit immigration laws.
After its departure from the European Union in January 2021, the government implemented a points-based immigration system.
“We work… 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,” a government spokesperson said.
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“This includes reviewing the shortage occupation list to ensure it reflects the current labour market.”
The shortage list aims to ease visa requirements for occupations in limited supply.
Several British businesses have long urged the government to relax its visa policies.
European labor shortages caused by Brexit and worsened by Covid repercussions have affected the hospitality, road haulage, and agriculture industries particularly hard.
According to recent data from the Office for National Statistics, the UK currently has around one million vacant positions.
This statistic has been inflated by counting the number of Brits who have chosen to leave the labor force due to long-term sickness or early retirement.
According to survey data released by the ONS on Thursday, more than a quarter of UK enterprises with 10 or more employees were facing labor shortages in late February. This was similar to the situation in late January.
“Many (businesses) will have little option but to increase wages to attract and retain staff,” said Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown.
“This piles on yet more pressure at a time when higher energy costs and rising prices of goods are still causing headaches.”
The UK government and the Bank of England have advised firms to exercise caution, warning that large wage increases might jeopardize efforts to control inflation.
Strikes, on the other hand, have increased in recent months in Britain as employees protest about wages that have failed to keep pace with decades of high consumer price inflation, exacerbating a cost-of-living issue.