Visa easing for healthcare and care workers: will it make a difference? – Immigration
European Union: Visa easing for healthcare and care workers: will it make a difference?
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5,000 truck driver visas were introduced in October 2021 but only 20 were issued. Could falling wages and inflationary pressures mean the same for the new health and care worker visa?
The Home Office has announced the temporary relaxation of immigration rules for social workers for a period of 12 months, starting February 15, 2022. Including social workers, carers and home workers , they will now be eligible for a Health and Care Worker Visa, with the roles placed on the shortage occupations list. The temporary easing follows other recent announcements aimed at addressing labor shortages such as temporary visa schemes for poultry workers, butchers and truck drivers for food transport. In this post-Brexit and soon post-pandemic environment, the question is then whether these temporary measures solve labor shortages or are longer-term solutions needed?
The healthcare sector is feeling the impact of Brexit
The new announcement for social workers follows advice from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), the government’s advisers on immigration. They stated that:
“In view of the serious and growing difficulties
[care] facing the sector in terms of recruitment and retention, we recommend that social worker jobs be immediately eligible for the health and care visa and placed on the shortage occupations list. »
Temporary visa regimes are a new phenomenon invariably linked to Brexit. With the withdrawal of the UK from 31 December 2020, EU nationals can no longer enter the UK and start working as before and are subject to immigration rules in the same way as nationals of third country. All these sectors depend heavily on EU workers; for example, around 7% of adult social workers and 10% of truck drivers were EU nationals in 2021.
Lack of use of previous visas
The temporary visa schemes for 5,500 poultry workers, butchers and 5,000 truck drivers were introduced on October 11, 2021. The initial announcement was that the visas would last until Christmas Eve 2021, but were later extended until early 2022. These programs are now all closed. to 1 January 2022. While the Home Office has yet to release data on the use of these visas, Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden MP confirmed that as of 13 October 2021 only 20 HGV driver visas had been issued, 300 of which were processed. The truck shortage is an international problem, attributed to a number of factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic slowing the number of tests, an aging workforce and an overreliance on labor – of foreign work. However, this temporary visa scheme was not considered attractive, as he noted that for lorry drivers, for example, European driver salaries were generally higher than in Britain, that the new rules from the EU had improved working conditions and that billions of euros had been offered to finance parking lots and assistance companies.
The definition of a skilled worker is essential
The main difference between poultry workers and truck drivers and butchers and caregivers is skill level; the former are considered unskilled and therefore cannot currently be sponsored beyond these temporary visa programs, while the latter will be considered skilled and can be sponsored under the Ministry of Education’s Skilled Worker Route. ‘Domestic, which means individuals can bring dependents with them and eventually settle in the UK.
It is expected that the temporary change will likely have a positive impact on labor shortages experienced by the healthcare sector. The UK is and remains an attractive migration option for skilled workers. The key question will be whether the pandemic and the toll it has taken on many people in the healthcare sector, along with generally lower wages and combined inflationary pressures, will provide sufficient short-term resolution until so that the UK can then focus on what the Prime Minister hopes will become a ‘high-wage, high-skills, high-productivity economy’.
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