A temporary visa that would enable construction and engineering companies to continue to employ skilled European tradespeople for three years while they train UK workers as bricklayers, plumbers etc is a central plank in a post Brexit immigration policy published by the special interest group, Migration Watch. 

‘EU Immigration, Post-Brexit A Comprehensive Policy’ contends that a visa issued for one year, but extendable in yearly increments to a maximum of three years, would both solve the skills gap and encourage employers to train domestic workers.

Under the policy, the Migration Advisory Committee would decide which sectors/occupations are eligible and employers would have to pay a levy attached to the visa and show evidence of genuine attempts to recruit in the UK.

Workers would not be allowed to switch into another visa category or settle in the UK, and they would also have no access to in-work benefits, tax credits or housing benefits.

Other key elements in the Migration Watch post Brexit Immigration Policy comprise

  • the principles of the existing Tier 2 (general) system should be extended to highly skilled workers from the EU, enabling businesses to sponsor those who are offered a graduate level job paying at least £30,000 pa (320,800 for new entrants)
  • the principles of the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme should be extended to allow 18 – 30 year olds, who have no dependent children, to work in the UK for up to 2 years. This is the so-called ‘Barista Visa’, and it can neither be extended nor provide access to benefits.
  • a Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Scheme based on the New Zealand example should also be considered

Response to the proposals has been largely sceptical, with labour market experts warning that that employers are often unable to recruit suitable local applicants and would be unable to train those they do recruit to fill the skills gap in 3 years.