- Imposing a £1000 a year skills charge on businesses that recruit skilled workers from outside the EU;
- Increasing the salary threshold for non EU workers; and
- Reforming the rules relating to the temporary transfer of staff from connected overseas businesses.
The changes are designed to encourage businesses to recruit and train British staff rather than fill skill shortages by looking outside the EU. Whatever the long term goals it is considered that the proposals do not reflect the currently reality of skill shortages in the UK, particularly in areas such as software and digital technology where it is estimated that an additional 10,000 workers are needed each year to maintain growth levels.
Before an individual can be recruited from outside the EU a business must first demonstrate that there are no suitable workers inside the UK or EU so, in my experience, sponsoring a work visa is often a measure of last resort. Even once it has been established that there are no suitable candidates inside the EU, businesses must comply with the expensive and complicated compliance regime in order to sponsor a skilled member of staff.
The proposed immigration skills charge will simply be an additional cost for businesses where there is no choice but to look outside the EU. No concession is made for businesses recruiting in recognised shortage occupations and it is proposed that the charge will apply regardless of the size of the business, meaning that small and medium sized enterprises will be badly affected.
The proposals are also very concerning for international graduates looking to remain in the UK. The Committee propose to increase the minimum starting salary for graduates to £23,000, a figure which is likely to be beyond the reach of many small and medium sized enterprises. I recently appeared before the Scottish Affairs Committee at Westminster to explain why the current system does not work for graduate recruitment and it was necessary to re-introduce a Post Study Work visa in Scotland but, if implemented, the MAC proposals will only make it harder for talented graduates to remain in the UK.
The Committee's proposals are aimed at reducing net migration and do not appear to have tackled the potential negative impact of reducing the talent pool for UK businesses. The Home Office will now consider these but given the commitment to reduce net migration the vast majority of the proposals are likely to be implemented in the coming months.