Young people’s refusal to work in certain sectors of the economy means that the UK will continue to require migrant workers in order to fill the gaps, according to the CBI.
The business organisation said that areas such as construction and caring for the elderly need overseas workers to staff them, and it is not just highly-skilled jobs that require foreign employees. People who apply for a UK visa to work in Britain will continue to play an important part in the economy, even when the UK has left the European Union.
CBI director-general, Carolyn Fairbairn, said it was not just the types of jobs that needed to be filled, but the areas of the country where they were than meant migrant workers are needed in the longer term.
She told the Brexit select committee of MPs: “There are parts of the country where unemployment is really, really low [such as Exeter]. Many of the young unemployed people are on the other side of the country and they are not going to come down to Exeter, and they don’t.”
Ms Fairbairn said it was important to move away from theory and begin to obtain an “understanding where we really do have these stresses and strains in the economy”.
However, John Longworth, the former British Chambers of Commerce head and now co-chairman of Leave Means Leave, took a different view.
He told the committee that the UK should only allow migrant workers in the country to fill the necessary gaps until sufficient British workers could be trained to do the jobs currently filled by people from overseas.
He is backing a system where migrants must first have a job to come to before they are allowed into the UK, rather than being able to arrive and then look for work.