Coventry businesses cautiously welcome clarity on immigration rules

The post-Brexit immigration rules will help to address local skills gaps – particularly in the science, technology, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

Coventry and Warwickshire businesses have learned more about how they will be able to hire overseas workers for skilled roles that they are unable to fill domestically when freedom of movement with the EU ends in January 2021.

The Government has published further details about how its immigration points system will operate for overseas workers – for which they will need a minimum of 70 points to gain entry into the UK.

Mandatory measures including having a licensed job sponsor, the job meeting a minimum skill level, and being able to speak English to an acceptable standard will earn the applicant 50 points.

The applicant must then obtain a further 20 “tradeable” points, whether that is through their salary – which has to be at a minimum of £20,480 – or a job in an occupation where is a shortage of skills, or a relevant PhD.

The Government has also announced it will set up a cross-departmental unit called the Office for Talent, which will make it easier for leading global scientists, researchers and innovators to live and work in the UK.

Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, commented: “This update is welcome news for businesses in our region who are looking to address any skills gaps in the medium to long term future – particularly in the science, technology, engineering and manufacturing sectors.

“That said, the immediate short-term priority for the majority of firms is surviving the impact left behind by the coronavirus lockdown – and as businesses start to turn their attentions to thriving from longer term growth opportunities, so will the need to recruit additional talent.

“While we now have clarity over how hiring overseas workers looks, it is by no means a straight forward process, and it’s vital that businesses receive as much support as possible right from the moment they begin to explore overseas recruitment to ensure as a region – and country – we are maximising the talent available to us.”

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: “The government has listened to calls from the Chamber Network and provided welcome clarity on how firms can hire skilled workers from overseas as the UK completes its departure from the European Union.

“Businesses are investing in home-grown talent across the UK, but will still need to fill some roles from overseas. The new immigration system will mean that thousands more firms will bear additional costs and bureaucracy when the skills they need cannot be found or developed locally.

“As the new system is implemented, businesses will need help to become sponsors – and will need to see immigration applications turned around quickly.

“The government must do everything it can to reduce the cumulative cost of employment, including the costs associated with immigration, to help businesses recover from the pandemic, hire with confidence, and seize future opportunities.”