Today the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) published its Interim Update on its work to review the economic and social impacts on the UK labour market of the UK’s exit from the European Union. This forms part of the MAC’s response to the Home Secretary Commission of July 2017 and will report fully in September this year.
The update summarises the responses that organisations provided to the MAC’s call for evidence of July 2017 and provides some commentary about the responses. There were 400+ responses, 10 of which were from the transport sector. Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce (STAT) contributed with the following points in response:
- Transport is a fundamental to the UK strategy for productivity and growth in post Brexit Britain;
- There are existing skills shortages and gaps resulting from historic under-investment, an ageing demographic and poor perceptions of the sector;
- Strategies to grow sustainable pipelines of skills have been in place since before the referendum, so transport is on the front foot and we are making good progress, as the One year on report published in July 2017 shows;
- STAT does not have a single, comprehensive picture of the reliance in transport on non UK EU labour. This is because once the Right to Work in the UK has been established, there is no requirement to maintain records on the nationality of employees. Post referendum, there are sensitivities around asking employees to declare their nationality;
- The evidence therefore relies on discrete industry surveys as well as some anecdotal data;
- Whilst there are clearly limitations in this data, STAT’s collective industry knowledge and expertise allows it to draw certain, preliminary conclusions;
- There is a picture emerging of potentially stronger reliance on non UK EU workers in certain regions and in certain specialisms;
- This also appears to be stronger in the lower tiers of the supply chain and among agency workers, and less so in our delivery bodies;
- Ameliorative action currently underway tends to focus on supply side, and specifically on the apprenticeships agenda;
- There are challenges around implementation in a policy environment and programmes which develop the skills required in the sector can take 3 years or more for a learner to complete. Many plans will only truly come to fruition around 2030, when the school children of today are entering the workforce;
- There are also opportunities to review the way in which investment programmes are procured and managed which would bring productivity and efficiency benefits;
- For our major projects, Modern Methods of Construction present a real opportunity to address regional disparities and spread economic benefits, but this will take time and investment to truly take hold;
- Until such time as policy and strategies around developing sustainable skills can truly come to fruition, some highly specialist roles, and those demanding hands-on experience will still sometimes need to be filled by non-UK employees.
- A visa system therefore needs to be straightforward and flexible enough for businesses to use when needed. Ideally accommodating a need for workers at a range of skill levels, as well as, potentially, to take into account regional or project based variations.
For full the MAC Interim update visit: