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Ensure immigration helps sectors with skills shortages

…we must also address the immediate needs of those sectors of the economy suffering shortages in skills. We will make the immigration system work for these sectors, whilst ensuring that we develop the skills we need for the future.

Our Verdict

There are a number of sectors in the economy currently suffering from skills shortages, such as technology and healthcare. Skilled immigration is one way for the government to help those sectors fill their labour shortages. On November 15th 2017, the government announced that it was doubling the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa route from 1,000 applications a year to 2,000 in order to address the skills shortage in the technology industry. Before this, Tier 1 (exceptional talent) visa applications were reaching their cap. Furthermore, the government announced a £61 million investment into technology research and education, which is in line with their promise to ensure “we develop the skills we need for the future”.

There are other sections of the economy that need to be addressed, however, before this policy can be considered ‘done’. The NHS currently has a big shortage of anaesthetists, surgeons and elderly-care doctors, a problem made worse after the Brexit vote in 2016 as many European workers left their NHS roles. Information released from the regulator NHS Improvement this year found that as many as 100,000 NHS posts are currently unfilled across the country. Doctors from outside the UK and Europe that want to come and work for the NHS will need a Tier 2 visa, but there have been reports that doctors from outside the EU have struggled to get one. To be able to consider this one as ‘done’, we will be looking for the government to act to make it easier for doctors to come and work in the NHS from outside the UK and EU. Until such time, however, this policy will be marked as ‘in progress’, taking note of the government’s progress to address skills shortages in other sectors, namely digital technology.

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