By William Schomberg
LONDON – Britain should temporarily allow more young people from the European Union back into its labour markets to fix the shortage of staff facing many companies, a human resources trade body said on Wednesday.
Many of the problems pre-dated the coronavirus pandemic and were therefore unlikely to be resolved once the economy returns to a more normal footing, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this month promised to do away with what he called “the old failed model of low wages, low skills, supported by uncontrolled immigration”, and promised a high-wage, high-productivity economy thanks to Brexit.
But his government has had to offer emergency visas to EU workers to address acute shortages of truck drivers, poultry workers and butchers.
The CIPD said the government should allow EU citizens to apply for Britain’s youth mobility visa, which offers two-year work permits to 18-30 year-olds from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said research by the body showed that too many employers in low-paying sectors had focused on pushing down the cost of their workforce, rather than investing in staff to boost productivity.
“However, changes in business behaviour, people management capability and investment priorities will take time, time that firms who are struggling with acute skill and labour shortages now simply don’t have,” Davies said.
“In response, there is a strong case for an immediate immigration safety valve to address the rising labour supply challenges some employers are facing.”
The CIPD also called for an overhaul of the government’s apprenticeship levy to make it more flexible and for 60 million pounds ($83 million) to fund a business improvement service to help more firms invest in new technology and training.
($1 = 0.7255 pounds)