Priti Patel meets students and staff working on 'carbon capture' at Imperial College London in South Kensington on Tuesday. AP
The British government is facing backlash after unveiling a new post-Brexit immigration plans which puts a stop to low-skilled workers getting visas, on Wednesday.
The plan aims to choose high-skilled English speakers and boost homegrown workforce over “cheap labour from Europe.”
According to the Home Office, when the UK-EU free movement ends in Dec 31, EU and non-EU citizens coming into the UK will be treated equally.
The new points-based system that will be starting on Jan.1, 2021, is facing backlash, with critics saying the new measure could lead to staff shortages in sectors that rely heavily on foreign workers.
Sectors that will be affected the most are health and social care, construction, hospitality, food and drink, mentioned the employers’ representative, Confederation of British Industry.
Another fear is the lack of provision for low-paid workers, including the agricultural sector, where seasonal workers might have issues meeting new thresholds, said industry and unions.
"Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their workforce and new technologies is not an 'either or' choice — both are needed to drive the economy forward," said CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn.
However, Home Secretary Priti Patel dismissed suggestions of a negative impact on the UK economy. She encouraged businesses to plug any shortfalls with local hires.
"It's about time businesses started to invest in people in this country," she told Sky News television.
"We have over eight million people — that is 20 per cent of the workforce — aged between 16 and 64 that are economically inactive right now,” she added.
The category of skilled workers would be stretched to include those educated at A-level/Scottish Highers-equivalent standard, under the upcoming plan.
Carpentry, plastering and child minding will be added to the new skilled category, while waiting tables and certain types of farm worker would be removed.
The government wants to bring in a "points-based" immigration system, as promised in the Conservative election manifesto.
Under this, overseas citizens would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK.
Speaking English and having the offer of a skilled job with an "approved sponsor" would give them 50 points.
More points would be awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and working in a sector with shortages.
Workers from European Economic Area countries currently have the automatic right to live and work in the UK irrespective of their salary or skill level.
The government says this will end on Dec.31, when the 11-month post-Brexit transition period is due to finish.
The salary threshold for skilled workers wanting to come to the UK would be lowered from £30,000 to £25,600.
However, the government says the threshold would be as low as £20,480 for people in "specific shortage occupations" — which currently include nursing, civil engineering, psychology and classical ballet dancing - or those with PhDs relevant to a specific job.
About 200-300 pro-European Union supporters were mocked by pro-Brexit supporters as they walked from Downing Street to the office of the European Commission in London. Police formed a line to keep the two groups apart.
Brexit became official Friday at 11 p.m. in London and midnight in Brussels, where the EU is headquartered.
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay reiterated that the ideas formally submitted to Brussels this week were "a broad landing zone" to be discussed during "intense negotiations in the coming days."
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