Author: Ben Glaze
Bosses should stop moaning about a lack of low-skilled foreign workers and start employing British youngsters instead, Theresa May insisted.
Net migration from the EU has plummeted since the 2016 Brexit vote.
The fall in the value of the pound has made it less attractive for would-be workers to up sticks and come to the UK for jobs.
Firms have warned of a “Brexodus” as companies find it harder to recruit from poorer nations on the continent.
Annual net EU migration is running at 74,000 – the lowest since 2012, figures showed this week, as the number of European nationals quitting the UK surged by 18% year-on-year to 145,000.
In a sign of simmering tensions between No 10 and industry, the Prime Minister hit out at executives who claim a post-withdrawal clampdown on overseas workers will stifle their business.
Tackled about the complaints from managers and directors that it will be too difficult to fill low-skilled positions, she fumed: “We have seen a huge, significant creation of new jobs in our country and we have also seen from work the Government is doing, our encouragement of people into the workplace.
“What I hope to see – and what I’m sure we will be seeing – is opportunities for young people in the UK, opportunities for training and skilling young people in the UK.
“But we recognise that there are businesses who want to bring people in from the rest of the world, particularly in highly-skilled areas, and our immigration system will reflect that.”
Pointing to the findings of the Migration Advisory Committee, she suggested highly-skilled foreigners would stand a better chance of finding a job in the UK than less-skilled counterparts after Brexit.
“They have said they think a skills-based immigration system is the way to go, and that’s what we will be doing,” said the PM, as she flew to Argentina for the G20 summit.
“We are talking to business about their needs.”
No 10 has refused to say when it will publish its long-term immigration policy.
But ministers have repeatedly pointed out Brexit will finally allow the Government to treat EU migrants the same as those from outside the bloc.
Quitting the EU would allow the UK to stop unlimited migration from the continent, she added.
“Crucially we are bringing free movement to an end,” said Mrs May.
“It enables us to have one system for people coming from across the world, and that is skills-based and recognises the needs of the economy.”