Annual survey reveals many businesses fear they will not have access to the skills they need
Confederation of British Industry finds uncertainty about the new immigration system is causing big concerns for businesses
24 December 2019
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said last week that its annual survey found uncertainty about the new immigration system is weighing heavily on businesses minds.
According to the Financial Times, businesses expressed concern that a tougher immigration policy after Brexit will mean that they cannot hire workers with the skills they need or fill low-paid jobs.
The CBI found over 70% of the businesses surveyed feared they would not have access to the skills they need and they identified this as the main threat to the UK's labour market competitiveness.
Around half of businesses identified concerns over access to labour and the ability to move UK workers across the EU.
In addition, almost 60% of the businesses surveyed said they would be negatively impacted if the new immigration system is introduced before it is simplified so that businesses can actually use it.
Reuters noted that the CBI also found 65% of businesses surveyed believe Britain's labour market had become a less attractive place in which to invest and do business over the past five years.
Matthew Fell, the CBI's Chief UK Policy Director, said: "The UK's labour market has remained remarkably resilient in the face of tougher economic conditions and uncertainty. But job growth is showing signs of tailing off and businesses are becoming more concerned about the competitiveness of the UK labour market.
"It's clear what's weighing heavy on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system. Businesses believe that this can both support the economy and restore the public's confidence that immigration is controlled. A strong partnership between business and government is essential to doing so. Whatever the final shape of the new immigration system, it needs to be simple from its first day of introduction and allow firms to access both the labour and skills they need to grow."
In an article for The Times last month, Matthew Fell warned that rushing in a new immigration system would be rash and getting it right first time is crucial.
Fell said workers from overseas, particularly the EU, make a hugely significant contribution to the UK, and it is important for public finances and public services that this continues.
"For business, allowing firms to access the people and skills they need is as important as forging our future trading relationship with the EU, the UK's biggest trading partner by far. Yet alarmingly for companies across the UK, scant details exist about how this might work in practice," Fell added.