The 5% Club responds to the publication of the Post-Brexit Immigration White Paper

“Many of our members are from sectors that are already experiencing skills shortages. One way our members offset this is to offer ‘earn and learn’ training opportunities. However, they are very concerned about today’s plans to prioritise ’high-skilled’ migrant workers when it is clear that there are skills shortages across all levels.

“At present, our members are unable to access the skills they need from a domestic workforce. Many sectors have relied on EU workers to fill significant gaps which – due to record levels of employment, ongoing skills shortages, insufficient new entrants and young people taking up apprentices – are unlikely to be resolved from the domestic base for some time. Post-Brexit, employers must have access to a diverse pool of talent from outside the UK in order to succeed economically.

“According to our members, falling levels of EU migration are already having a severe impact on employers’ ability to find the staff they need, exacerbating skills shortages and driving up wages. This is clearly not sustainable over a long period. We therefore welcome the acknowledgment that there must be a route for workers at any skill level into the UK, but are concerned about the practicality for employers of this only being for a 12-month period.

“The 5% Club agrees wholeheartedly that industry must train more workers domestically, but we must be given every assistance to enable us to do so. The 5% Club members are all committed to offering ‘earn and learn’ training opportunities to help address skills shortages, however, the current Apprenticeship Levy is hindering progress. It’s proposed reform must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

“To conclude, British businesses must be given every assistance to thrive and to play their part in making a success of Brexit. This requires a flexible, responsive immigration system, teamed with a skills policy that meets employers’ needs. And above all, the economy needs time to adjust to any new system.”

Lady Cobham CBE, Director General of The 5% Club