Labour Challenges Government’s Visa Policy as Thousands of Migrants Receive Work Permissions
In a critical assessment of the UK government’s immigration strategy, Labour has condemned the increased issuance of skilled worker visas as a band-aid solution to a deeper problem: the nation’s skills shortage. Last year, a significant number of 5,100 visas were granted under the Government’s shortage occupation scheme, sparking intense debate.
Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home Secretary, pointedly criticised the Conservative government’s approach. “The Conservatives chaotic approach to immigration has led to deep skills shortages, a doubling of work visas, and unfair undercutting for thousands of people,” she stated. This comment underscores Labour’s perspective that the current policy is a makeshift response to a failure in nurturing domestic talent.
Skilled worker visas are typically reserved for individuals offered jobs with salaries at least equivalent to the UK average for similar roles, based on figures from the Office for National Statistics. This approach aims to prevent wage suppression resulting from businesses hiring cheaper foreign labour.
However, exceptions are made for roles facing a severe shortage of qualified UK personnel. In these cases, employers are permitted to offer only 80% of the standard wage. Labour views this relaxation as exacerbating the problem, proposing the abolition of this policy in favour of more robust training initiatives for jobs on the shortage list.
Responding to these criticisms, a government spokesperson emphasized their commitment to addressing these issues. “We work closely with the Migration Advisory Committee 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,” the spokesperson explained. The government also highlighted its efforts in offering free training and upskilling opportunities for adults, targeting skills shortages in key sectors.
As discussions continue, the government remains engaged in reviewing the Migration Advisory Committee’s findings on the shortage occupation list, with plans to respond in due course. Story Source