REC response to the immigration white paper

Filed under Press release

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

In response to the publication of the immigration white paper, Neil Carberry, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said:

“A white paper on plans for the immigration system is long overdue. Control needs to be matched with ensuring people can come to contribute with ease. Securing the well-established economic benefits of immigration requires moving on from ill-informed targets and sloganeering.

“Investors worldwide want to know Britain will be open for business – a safe place to create jobs and base international teams. Firms in the UK want to know that shortages that can’t be filled by local employment and training can be addressed – and not just for higher paid roles. 

“There are a few pieces of good news today – like a short-term visa for lower-paid roles that can be applied for from the UK, and the acknowledgement that the system needs to be simpler, especially for smaller firms. It was also good to hear the Home Secretary emphasise the importance of the new system working for the flexible labour market. And it was good to see less emphasis on the unworkable net migration target.

“But firms will be dismayed by any proposals that require job roles to be on a government-approved list before they can get a visa. Because of this, the way the Resident Labour Market Test is replaced is vital – no list will be able to keep pace with changing demand from employers.” 

On skills shortages:

“Our data shows that candidate availability is declining each month. Recruiters have found it particularly difficult to supply staff in several sectors since well before the referendum, including health and social care, hospitality and food and drink. 42 per cent of employers said they had not been able to find enough workers to fill all their seasonal or temporary vacancies.”

On the cost of migration to firms and the need for a simpler system:

“The cost of Tier 2 (non-EU workers) visas is already a barrier to mobility and a major cost to employers looking to hire the staff they need to compete and grow. A new system must be radically simplified – we have one of the most expensive visa systems in the world. If a worker were to work for a company for five years with a partner and three children, government fees could cost them or their employer up to £16,069.  SMEs in particular will be hugely impacted if the current system is extended to EU workers.”

Ensuring workers are protected:

“On top of all of this we mustn’t forget that the increase in complexity and cost to immigration these new rules create increases the risks of poor practice. Making sure visas are linked to individuals not companies – especially for lower paid roles – will help protect migrant workers.”


Notes to editors:  

1. For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 0207 009 2192/2157 or An ISDN line is available for interviews on 0207 021 0584.
2. Jobs transform lives, which is why we are building the best recruitment industry in the world. As the professional body for recruitment we’re determined to make businesses more successful by helping them secure the people they need. We are absolutely passionate and totally committed in this pursuit for recruiters, employers, and the people they hire. Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at

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