Immigration has been a topic of great importance in the UK, particularly since the Brexit vote. The new immigration regime implemented in 2021, which opened up opportunities for skilled workers from around the world to enter the UK with slightly lower barriers than before, has had both positive and negative impacts on the UK economy. While the new system has helped employers experiencing skills shortages, it has also excluded lower-paid jobs from the system, causing difficulties for sectors such as logistics and manufacturing, which previously relied on freely hiring from the EU.
The exclusion of lower-paid jobs from the system has been a big shock for some sectors of the economy, such as care and hospitality, which rely heavily on migrant workers. Some economists argue that the reason for labor shortages in these sectors is not a lack of workers but rather poor pay and conditions. However, the new immigration regime has made it harder for workers in these sectors to come to the UK, leading to concerns about the impact on salaries in certain industries.
The strain on the public sector workforce is also visible, with schools and the NHS starting to look overseas to hire teachers, healthcare professionals, and social care workers. The creation of a new "health and care" visa category with much lower fees than those now levied for most skilled workers has led to the sector accounting for a majority of work visas granted in the UK. However, concerns remain about the impact of excluding lower-paid jobs from the immigration system on the salaries and working conditions in these sectors.
While the new immigration regime has led to higher numbers of skilled workers and a huge shift in migrants' countries of origin, skill levels, and the sectors they work in, economists caution that migration should not be seen as a panacea to labor shortages. A larger workforce does not necessarily translate to higher per capita GDP, and there is a risk that a rapid increase in migrant workers could "crowd out" the UK's capacity to take a more humane approach to other migrants, such as refugees.
The CBI has been urging ministers to add more roles to the "shortage" occupation list or to open new sectoral schemes to address the issue of lower-paid jobs being excluded from the system. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that migration should not be seen as the only solution to labor shortages, and that other policies to boost the domestic workforce are needed. Ultimately, it is essential to strike a balance between the benefits of immigration and the need to address labor shortages in a sustainable and equitable manner.
In conclusion, The impact of immigration on lower-paying jobs in the UK economy is a complex issue. While the new immigration regime has opened up opportunities for skilled workers from around the world, it has also excluded lower-paid jobs from the system, causing difficulties for some sectors of the economy. There is a risk that a rapid increase in migrant workers could have negative impacts on salaries and working conditions in these sectors. It is essential to strike a balance between the benefits of immigration and the need to address labor shortages in a sustainable and equitable manner.