By John Ikani
Britain has announced plans to ease visa access in a bid to address its current labour shortages.
The shortage has been partially attributed to the country’s stricter immigration rules, following its departure from the European Union in January 2021.
In response to this, a government Spokesperson has confirmed that they will review the shortage occupation list, which seeks to relax visa access for professions in short supply.
“The government is determined to ensure that their points-based system delivers for the UK, and works in the best interests of the economy by prioritising the skills and talent that are required to encourage long-term investment in the domestic workforce,” said the spokesperson.
The shortage of Labour has been a long-standing issue, with many British companies calling for the government to ease its visa policy.
The impact of Brexit has been felt particularly hard in the hospitality, road haulage, and agriculture sectors.
These shortages have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic fallout. According to recent data from the Office for National Statistics, the UK currently has approximately one million unfilled jobs.
The figure has been pushed higher by the number of Britons choosing to leave the labour market as a result of long-term illness or early retirement.
To address this issue, more than a quarter of UK firms with 10 or more employees were experiencing shortages in late February, according to survey data published by the ONS. This was broadly the same as in late January.
However, with the rising number of unfilled jobs, many businesses will have little option but to increase wages to attract and retain staff, which could cause further complications.
Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown, stated that this would add more pressure at a time when higher energy costs and rising prices of goods are still causing headaches.
While the UK government and Bank of England have urged employers to show restraint, warning that big pay hikes would jeopardise attempts to tame inflation, strikes have multiplied in the country in recent months as workers protest over salaries that have failed to keep pace with decades-high consumer price inflation, worsening a cost-of-living crisis.