The demands increase calls from industry bodies for clarification about how immigration policy should be shaped.
The City UK, which lobbies for financial and professional services firms, and EEF, an organisation representing manufacturers, have warned Theresa May that Britain’s key industries face a “recruitment crunch” after Britain leaves the European Union.
Both groups believe that Brexit will restrict their access to skilled workers from European countries and will deter non-European citizens from applying to work in the UK.
In a report that is being handed to the Home Office today, The City UK said that the cost for businesses to bring skilled European workers into Britain could increase threefold if existing immigration rules were not changed. It called for the government to commit to a visa waiver system to preserve the City of London’s standing as a global financial centre.
Under the proposals, the Home Office would allow international staff posted to British companies for less than six months to move in and out of the country without having to apply for a work visa. Leaked details of the proposals this month suggested that the lobby group had asked for this arrangement for financial services firms only, but the group has since confirmed that it has called for sweeping reform that would affect all British employers.
“Britain’s success is built on openness. Being able to attract the most talented people with the right skills, from both the UK and overseas, is a top priority for business leaders,” Miles Celic, chief executive of The City UK, said.
Foreign workers account for more than one in four jobs in banking and finance in Britain, the group said. It said that maintaining British companies’ access to foreign workers was “critical for working in a global environment”.
Its report comes after promises by David Davis, the Brexit secretary, late last year to push for a deal to allow financial services firms to move employees between the EU and the UK after Brexit. A Bank of England report had warned that 75,000 financial services jobs in Britain could be lost as banks moved staff to avoid restrictions.
The EEF said that 17 per cent of manufacturing companies had reported a drop in applications from European citizens, and a further 13 per cent had reported an increase in European workers leaving their businesses.
“Skills shortages are endemic in manufacturing and engineering and companies are increasingly concerned about their ability to access the skills they need post-Brexit,” Tim Thomas, its director of skills and policy, said.
Source: The Times