Today it has been reported that under new plans by the government, migrants from the EU and beyond that are considered “unskilled” will not be entitled to visas into the UK. Employers are being encouraged to focus on keeping staff instead of hiring ‘cheap labour’ which from the view of job progression for UK citizens looks to be a plus. But will it create job security or leave employers wanting for staff leaving gaps in industries?
A tweet on the subject from this morning read “I have a postgrad qualification. I have a mum with dementia in a care home. I could not do the “low skilled work” the carers show my mum & others in the unit. They are amazing people with a unique set of skills I cannot equal”. And she’s quite right, what quantifies low skilled work? And without anyone in the care industries or indeed, construction or surveying industries from abroad, can the British population fill the gaps the absence of workers will create?
Just because we have 1.29 million unemployed (as of December 2019) does not mean the gaps will be filled easily or that people want to do ‘low skilled’ work which can be construed as low paid. The difference is our unemployed want a livable wage. For people from low economy areas in the EU and beyond, our minimum wage is more than they’d expect in their own country.
Rejecting migrant workers who work hard at jobs we in this country take for granted, for example, fruit pickers would be detrimental. Though the job can be seen as tiring, having an early start and long hours, it provides us with nutritious food and is carried out in a wide-open space with fresh air. Unlike migrant workers, many would not see the benefit of working in this environment. And this is where the problem lies.
Particular sectors are taken for granted in this country and low paid doesn’t always mean low skilled. Fruit pickers aside, what about those who process food, prepare the food, cook the food? None of these jobs are unskilled by any means. Let’s revisit that tweet mentioned previously. Would you know how to care for someone with Dementia or other cognitive disorders? Would you know how to cut an animal carcass to separate the best cuts of meat? Would you know how to sort the meat by its quality? By disqualifying people with these skills, surely money will be wasted on hiring the 1.29 million unemployed in these sectors and training them to have the skill of someone from the EU or otherwise with this knowledge already?
In any case, the new points system appears to leave a lot to be desired, considering 21% of EU migrants are in factory and construction industries despite there being a need for a £23,000 salary minimum to gain points.
It can be argued that industries that pay workers minimum wage but are in high demand will struggle unless they increase their wage. In comparison, the point system states that a PHD is needed in a relevant field to the job or related to STEM, despite 9% of EU migrants being STEM professionals and 7% being STEM associate professionals which will generally be higher paid jobs but in less demand.