Since our exit from the EU, and the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic, it isn’t a secret that many businesses in an array of industry sectors are struggling to recruit skilled members of staff. Indeed, the Office for National Statistics reported that the number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 rose to a new record of 1,172,000, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic January to March 2020 level, with 15 of the 18 industry sectors showing record highs.1
The UK is currently experiencing the worst staffing and skills shortage it has seen in many years. The CBI has recently reported that labour shortages are a concern to over three quarters of businesses, and they are expecting shortages to last years.2 Therefore, it is vital for many businesses to consider what they can do to actively recruit much needed skilled resource.
1. Bringing recruits into the UK from overseas
There are a number of ways to bring overseas workers into the UK, including sponsorship under a skilled worker visa or an intra-company transfer visa. Although the immigration system remains strict, and now encompasses European nationals, in some respects the new framework has made sponsoring migrant workers easier. The government has substantially increased the types of worker that can be recruited via sponsorship. Firms who wish to bring recruits into the UK will need to apply for a sponsor licence.
2. Employing EU workers
There still exist some favourable immigration routes for EU nationals, pursuant to specific provisions agreed as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. If EU nationals have lived or worked in the UK in previous years, for example, they may qualify for special status enabling them to continue to work in the UK post-Brexit unhindered.
3. Remote working
The pandemic has really changed the way we work, with 36% of workers working at least partially from home. This will have an impact on recruitment possibilities, with the option to work entirely remotely key, opening up the pool of skilled resources to the whole country rather than a small region. Consider any employment law issues which may arise, with possible contractual changes required.
4. Working remotely outside of the UK
Also, following the pandemic, we know that many people have relocated back to the country where their family are based. Consider reviewing your contracts to allow temporary or permanent working from overseas allowing you to recruit from a much larger pool of resource. Likely contractual issues to overcome will be tax, social security, mandatory employment protection and data privacy considerations, but the access to a greater skills base should outweigh any problems.
The Wilkes Partnership advises employers who are recruiting specialist workers from overseas under the UK Points Based System and other immigration routes. We can help with visas for representatives of overseas businesses and business visitors, as well as on other business immigration routes into the UK including new routes available for the recruitment of workers from the European Union following Brexit.