Brits think farm workers are 'skilled workers' for immigration purposes

3 March 2020, 05:21

Farm workers are one of the categories people believe are skilled labour
Farm workers are one of the categories people believe are skilled labour. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Most Brits think farm staff, carers and chefs should be considered as skilled workers under new immigration rules, a survey suggests.

It comes after industry leaders warned changes to visa rules could "spell absolute disaster" for the care system and risk farmers, builders and hospitality businesses being hit the hardest.

The Government came under fire for telling employers they will "need to adjust" after deciding it will not offer visas to low-skilled migrant workers after Brexit.

Polling company YouGov asked British adults what they thought of the Government's immigration plans.

The majority of respondents felt the staff in those roles, as well as construction workers, lorry drivers and butchers should all be considered as skilled, the results indicate.

According to the survey, 92 per cent of respondents thought chefs and butchers (85 per cent) were skilled but 48 per cent felt hospitality workers were unskilled as did 58 per cent when asked about hotel housekeepers.

Some 67 per cent of British adults who took part felt carers were skilled and as did 58% when asked about farmworkers.

Many also indicated they considered HGV drivers (73 per cent) and construction workers (77 per cent) to have skilled roles.

Details of how the new points-based system would work were announced on February 18. YouGov gathered the responses of 1,649 adults who took part in the survey a few days later, between February 23 and 24.

A policy statement outlining plans for a new points-based system after freedom of movement ends said the economy needs to move away from a reliance on "cheap labour from Europe".

The changes are designed to cut the number of low-skilled migrants entering Britain from the beginning of next year but aim to make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

The "firm and fair" system will instead "attract the high-skilled workers we need to contribute to our economy, our communities and our public services", according to the policy paper published.

The EU Settlement Scheme, designed to give EU citizens permission to stay and work in the UK after Brexit, will "provide employers with flexibility to meet labour market demands", the paper said.

Expanding a seasonal workers scheme and arrangements with eight countries to welcome young people to the UK will also help employers but they are expected to take "other measures to address shortages", the paper said.

People who want to live and work in the UK will need to gain 70 points to be eligible to apply for a visa.

Points will be awarded for key requirements like being able to speak English to a certain level, having a job offer from an approved employer, and meeting a minimum salary threshold.

Most respondents (84 per cent) agreed with plans to ensure migrants should be able to speak English to a certain standard, according to a separate survey of 1,841 British adults carried out by YouGov between February 20 and 21.

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