Author: David Parsley
Home Secretary Priti Patel has rejected the advice of her own immigration advisers to open UK borders to foreign bricklayers and welders at the end of the Brexit transition period to avoid a skills shortage in the construction industry.
Ms Patel has reportedly rejected a recommendation that bricklayers and welders be added to the UK’s shortage occupation list which helps migrants get work visas to fill jobs where there are not enough domestic applicants.
A report in the Sun claimed Ms Patel would rather Britons who have lost jobs in the pandemic retrain for such roles than allow cheaper foreign labour in to fill them. Her stand pitched her against the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that wanted to relax measures to fill close the skills gap.
Call for relaxed immigration rules
Last month, a MAC report recommended brickies, butchers, care workers and welders be added to occupations that should see more relaxed immigration rules to fill vacancies.
The newspaper quoted a Whitehall source “close to the Home Secretary” claiming Ms Patel was “standing up for the white van man across the country”.
The source added: “That is why it is right that we focus on the needs of British people.”
Neil Jefferson, managing director of the Home Builders Federation, claimed the industry’s government-imposed target of building 300,000 new homes a year will be hampered by its inability to recruit from outside the UK form next year.
“Whilst housing supply has doubled in recent years, we are still somewhat short of meeting the Governments housing targets”, said Mr Jefferson.
“The industry is already experiencing skills shortages and the ability to access foreign skilled labour will be key to it delivering further increases and meeting Government ambitions for housing supply.”
The Government has called on housing developers to build 300,000 new homes a year, but despite doubling numbers over the past six years, the industry completed only 240,000 last year. The Home Office was contacted for comment.