Mayor of London joins call for easier visas | David Sapsted

Pressure on the government to relax its post-Brexit immigration rules has increased following a call from Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, for the creation of a ‘Covid recovery visa’ to deal with the serious labor shortages in the country.

In a speech at Bloomberg’s “The Future of Global Financial Centers” conference, Mr Khan also proposed expanding the Youth Mobility Program – which currently enables those under 30 from Australia, Canada and New Zealand to work in the UK for two years – to EU nationals. His call to ease the immigration system and increase the roles on the shortage occupation list, which makes it easier for workers to obtain UK visas, reflected demands from major business groups, including the Confederation of British industry and British Chambers of Commerce.On Tuesday, official figures revealed that vacancies across the country surpassed the record 1.1 million last month due to the pandemic and the exodus of workers from the EU over Brexit.A recent survey by the Institute of Directors found that 44% of its members experienced staff shortages at all skill levels. Mr Khan said: “Many sectors that are important to our economic recovery … EU workers and government immigration rules.“We know there are countless struggling businesses in London that are working hard to get back on their feet, but are now simply unable to hire the staff they need.


“Given the urgency and scale of the challenge, I call on the government to change its immigration system so that it meets our economic needs and helps our businesses.“This must include the introduction of a ‘Covid recovery visa’ to help attract international workers in key roles to support our economic recovery. London has unique needs when it comes to attracting workers from the world – and therefore a more responsive and dynamic approach is urgently required. “Mr Khan admitted that the topic of immigration was controversial, which has made many politicians appear “too afraid to advocate for what they know is necessary”.He added: “The truth is that a flexible migration system that can attract talent from all over the world will always be crucial to London’s competitiveness and our continued success.” The mayor also wants large cities and regions to be granted powers within the framework of the list of shortage professions so that they can complete the list on the basis of the specific skills required in their fields.According to the latest figures, the total of job vacancies in London was more than a fifth higher in July than it was 12 months earlier. Job vacancies in the construction industry were 43 percent higher and 60 percent in the hospitality sector.And those numbers came to light at a time when London’s 6% unemployment rate was the UK’s highest. Data from the Office for National Statistics on Tuesday also showed that London, Scotland and the south-east of England were the only three regions in the UK where payroll figures had failed to match the pre-pandemic levels.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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