REC puts forward youth mobility scheme to help solve UK talent challenge

A youth mobility programme with European countries, similar to those the UK currently has with Australia and New Zealand, could be a partial solution to the UK’s talent challenge for low-skilled roles, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has told a House of Lords sub-committee.

Along with the UK’s new immigration system, the ending of freedom of movement is, beyond the new UK-EU Free Trade Agreement itself, a key issue facing British business and the recruitment sector, the REC has said in a document sent to the House of Lords EU Sub-committee and seen by Recruiter.

“By having no immigration for roles deemed as low-skilled and requiring employer sponsorship for the vast majority of migrants, the REC does not believe the new immigration system will meet the needs of our labour market or economy,” the document said.

The document was a response to a House of Lords EU Sub-committee request in January for information about the impact of the UK-EU Free Trade Agreement and Brexit upon UK businesses. Speaking to Recruiter about the enquiry, REC deputy CEO Kate Shoesmith said: “The biggest problem we have at the minute is… it’s way too early for us to be saying what the definitive impact is in terms of moving people around, recruiting, etc. Once the pandemic and the lockdowns start to shift in different countries, that’s when we’ll know exactly how the deal is unfolding.”

Shoesmith went on to say that the REC has suggested that the sub-committee wait until early summer to fully proceed with the enquiry, “and that’s when you should get us in to talk to us about exactly what it’s feeling like on the ground”. 

In suggesting a youth mobility scheme, the document also puts forward the concept of “a comprehensive trade deal that facilitates the mobility of professionals can also help to address that challenge”. 

In the REC’s response in February to the EU Sub-committee’s enquiry on post-Brexit trade impact on the services sector, the REC has reinforced its view of three key points that “should be prioritised” in future UK-EU relations:

  • Minimising market access restrictions, including on establishment rules and ensuring UK professionals can still easily travel and conduct business within the EU
  • Ensuring mutual recognition of qualifications continues
  • Ensuring data flows between the UK and EU through an adequacy agreement.

The document also flags potential difficulties for small and medium-sized recruitment businesses. “Ultimately, members trading in the EU are now faced with 27 new sets of regulations, with every member state to have their own set of reservations. This means SMEs – the vast majority of REC’s membership – will have to fully under stand the requirements of each country… members are finding it difficult to comprehend that there is no longer ‘a one-size-fits-all’ when dealing with the EU,” the document said.

As of today [1 March 2021], the Sub-committee has not responded to the nine-page REC document. However, it understood that this is not unusual.

See tomorrow for an additional perspective on the post-Brexit era for recruiters.

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