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Home >Immigration White Paper proposals will "decimate manufacturing’s labour force"

Immigration White Paper proposals will "decimate manufacturing’s labour force"

04 March 2019

The UK’s manufacturing workforce is set to be left in tatters by the Government’s new Immigration White Paper proposals – with 88% of skilled manufacturing employees failing to meet the new £30,000 salary threshold, according to new analysis from Make UK (formerly EEF).

Three-quarters of manufacturers employ EU nationals who predominantly fill skilled roles such as engineering technicians. While the Government has proposed to extend the definition of “skilled” to include these job roles in a post-Brexit system, this move will mean nothing when tied to the proposed minimum salary threshold, as few of these roles initially pay more than the £30,000 necessary under the new rules to qualify to work in the UK.

The new system would also mean that EU job seekers looking to fill lower-skilled roles in manufacturing such as plant and machine operators would only permitted to come into the UK to work for a maximum of 12 months with a 12 month cooling off period.

Commenting on the White Paper, Tim Thomas, Make UK’s Director of Employment and Skills Policy said: “There are a number of proposals within the Government’s Immigration White Paper that risks decimating the manufacturing workforce. We need Government to urgently reconsider plans to introduce a salary threshold – as a minimum to reduce the rate and offer a phased approach to any salary threshold introduction to allow businesses to adapt and train a different cohort of employees. As yet, the UK does not have the home-grown talent and expertise to fill what will soon become vacant job roles.

“It is also essential to abolish the resident labour market test for all job roles, not just those at graduate level and above and to allow job-seekers who come to the UK through the temporary route to be allowed to switch to the skilled route if they meet the set criteria.  Getting rid of the Immigration Skills Charge for all non-UK nationals would send a signal to industry that Government is in listening mode and not ignoring businesses calls for a simple, flexible skills and migration system.

“We urge the Government to take on board real evidence like ours and stops proposing damaging policies that will have significant impacts on the UK economy.”

Key findings:

  • Government’s proposal to introduce a minimum salary threshold of £30,000 will have disastrous impacts on the manufacturing industry
  • 88% of employees working in skilled roles in manufacturing would not meet the salary threshold
  • The proposal will have regional impacts; in London and the South East 71% of employees would not meet the threshold, increasing to 90% in the North East and 94% in Yorkshire and the Humber
  • 41% of Welders in London and the South East would not meet the threshold, with no Welder employees in the East of England, North East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber meeting the threshold
  • Other job roles widely used across manufacturing such as CNC operators (Computer Numerically Controlled operators, e.g. robotics), Toolmakers and Maintenance Technicians would also be significantly impacting by the threshold.
  • Even those job roles that are almost at graduate level such as design draftspersons would also fail to hit the threshold in many cases.