British Chambers of Commerce on Thursday urged the British government to review its list of post-Brexit job shortages after warning many companies were struggling to recruit workers.
In a letter to Kevin Foster, Minister for Safe and Legal Migration, the BCC urged the government to work with companies to solve record levels of recruiting problems.
More than 60% of companies told the BCC they needed to find more staff in the UK, according to a survey released Friday of over 5,700 companies. But more than three-quarters of the hiring groups reported hiring difficulties, the BCC found.
The construction industry reported the most severe recruiting challenges, with 83% of companies reporting problems.
Many bosses blame the understaffing on a combination of Brexit, which EU workers failed to fill holes in the economy, and the pandemic, which caused people to re-evaluate their priorities.
Companies also report that the job crisis has caused a sharp rise in wages in many sectors, putting a strain on budgets already under pressure from rising inflation.
Amid rising business costs, the BCC found that less than a third of employers had increased their investments in the past three months.
Less than a fifth of small businesses had increased their investment, with these businesses coping less well than their larger competitors with the rising costs of doing business in the UK.
BCC CEO Shevaun Haviland wrote that restaurant owners can only open their doors a few days a week “because they can’t find chefs, while construction companies [haven’t] been able to find specialized drill rigs for construction jobs (who get 40% salary increases) and IT companies can’t recruit cybersecurity experts.”
The letter called for government support to invest in training by reducing business start-up costs and providing training-related tax benefits.He also urged ministers to reform the job shortage list “to allow sectors in urgent need of skills to get what they need” from abroad.
The list of deficient occupations outlines roles that the government considers to be poor and allows for more relaxed eligibility criteria for sponsored work visa applications.
The letter urged:
“with fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic, it is necessary to utilise flexibilities in our immigration system in addition to retraining and upskilling our people.”
“While the new routes introduced under the points-based immigration system to bring skilled workers into the UK are crucial, many of the technical skills businesses are struggling to recruit do not meet the threshold for the skilled worker visa,” it further stated.
Jane Gratton, BCC’s people policy head, said the list is:
“currently unsuitable for purpose and should be more flexible, so it supports companies going through a national recruiting crisis,” adding that employers couldn’t wait. a new prime minister to address these problems.
The government said: “Leaving the EU allowed us to introduce a points-based immigration system and we want employers to make long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce rather than relying on sourced labour from abroad”.
It further stated: “We plan to instruct the independent advisory committee on migration to review the list of deficient occupations in due course.”