Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

‘Brickie Visa’ Could Plaster Over Skills Shortage After Brexit

  • Think tank says short-term visas ‘would meet a genuine need’
  • Conservatives reiterate commitment to reducing migration

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As employers warn of a looming skills shortage following Britain’s exit from the European Union, a “brickie visa” has been touted as the solution.

The U.K. could face a shortage of workers in industries such as bricklaying and plumbing in 2019, when the country leaves the bloc, Migration Watch U.K. said in a report on Thursday. It suggested the introduction of an annual visa -- extendable to a maximum of three years -- as a stop gap measure. Employers would pay a levy and prove that they genuinely tried to recruit in the U.K.

Read about how London’s EU Expats Feel About Their Post-Brexit Futures

The visas “would meet a genuine need for a few years but with strong financial incentives for employers to train British workers,” said Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK. “Training outside the workplace has fallen off a cliff since 2000. Employers must now step up to the mark.”

British companies are finding it harder to find the right staff, even with unemployment at a 12-year low and with some EU nationals hesitant to take jobs in the country, according to The Recruitment and Employment Confederation. Pret a Manger, for example, said it would be unable to hire enough workers if they had to rely purely on British citizens.

But the political mood in the country in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum points to an overwhelming public desire to cap immigration of any kind and Prime Minister Theresa May is in campaign mode ahead of June 8 elections.

She reiterated a commitment to reduce migration to ‘tens of thousands’ while Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the government will insist that businesses like Pret a Manger try harder to train and recruit more U.K. nationals.

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