Migration Advisory Committee interim report highlights need for low-skilled migration route for EU workers

Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments as follows on the latest interim report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on how the UK’s immigration system should be designed following the end of the implementation period in 2021.

"The MAC is to be congratulated for producing a rational, evidence-based interim report, which rightly concludes that UK employers do not do not deliberately seek to fill vacancies with migrant workers. They do so because they are the best or sometimes the only candidates for various reasons such as the unattractiveness of the role or the local unemployment rate, especially for low-skilled or unskilled roles. As a result, it is imperative that there is some form of low-skilled route for EU migrant workers in the UK in the medium to long term.


“At the same time, the MAC rightly judges that some employers’ claims about skill shortages and their inability to improve the supply of UK workers through higher wages are exaggerated in some cases, especially in low-skilled or unskilled sectors. This is consistent with CIPD research, as noted by the MAC, which finds that that while some are adopting best practice to find home-grown applicants, others are falling short.

“Looking ahead, we hope that the MAC and the government see the merit in a labour shortage occupation list. Under this arrangement, employers would have to show that they are making efforts to improve the supply of UK workers while demonstrating that the occupation has a genuine labour or skill shortage. This more selective approach to controlling unskilled or low-skilled migration from the EU could potentially act as a catalyst for improving employer practice and enable most organisations to meet their labour and skills needs.”

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