May confirms plans to cut numbers of EU 'low-skilled' workers
2nd Oct 2018 / By Alistair Driver
Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed plans to cut the numbers of so-called ‘low-skilled’ migrant workers to the UK after we leave the EU.
Picking up on the recommendations of the recent Migration Advisory Committee report, Mrs May said high-skilled workers would be prioritised and that no preference would be given to people from the EU compared with those from the rest of the world. But she said a future trade deal with the EU could include an agreement on ‘mobility’ of each other's workers.
Mrs May has said all along that leaving the EU would spell the end of free movement of people between the UK and the EU.
The NPA’s has been at pains to stress the importance to the pig sector of workers defined as ‘low-skilled’, but are often anything but and who contribute a huge amount to the pig industry.
Responding to the MAC report, NPA chief executive Zoe said: “We are fully supportive of measures to encourage more domestic workers into agriculture and are actively working to achieve this. But that cannot for a moment mask the fact that we will continue to be reliant on access to EU workers to carry out roles, which in many cases are defined by the Government as ‘low-skilled’, but in reality are far from that.”
She said restricting EU labour access ‘could have serious implications for the UK’s ability to produce its own food’. “If our future access to EU labour is significantly restricted, the UK pig sector will simply not be in a position to produce and process the top quality British pork products enjoyed by consumers around the world,” she said.
Mrs May’s comments comments on low-skilled workers came in for further criticism. The Confederation of British Industry said the policy would make a shortage of workers in some sectors worse. "Restricting access to the workers the UK needs is self-defeating," it said, according to the BBC.
The British Retail Consortium said the policy should be based on the economy's needs rather an ‘arbitrarily’ drawing a line based on salaries or skills.
Labour said the Government was making a ‘dubious distinction’ between low and high-skilled workers - saying care workers were technically ‘low-skilled’ but were ‘vital to our society’.