Yvette Cooper proposes a reform package to rid the UK of dependence on foreign labor. Photo: JORDAN PETTITT/AFP
Labour will restrict immigration by placing temporary limits on how long companies can import foreign workers in hard-to-find jobs, shadow home secretary said.
Yvette Cooper told the Telegraph that a strengthened Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to set a 'time frame' for how long positions should be on the skills shortage list that gives access to visas.
Setting a specific time frame will encourage companies to train more British staff, considers the party.
The move comes after official data released last week showed annual net migration hit a record high of 606,000.
In what will be seen as a daring attempt to beat the Tories on immigration, Labor is proposing a package measures. reforms to rid the UK of dependence on foreign labor.
Steve Barclay, Minister of Health, is also suggesting that the National Health Service start to reduce its reliance on foreign doctors as the UK faces increasing competition from other developed countries looking to hire foreign staff.
In a conversation with The Telegraph Ms. Cooper attacked the Tories over their track record on immigration, saying there was “a huge gap between rhetoric and reality.”
“It undermines the credibility of the whole system,” she said. “Immigration is really important to Britain, but it needs to be properly monitored and managed for the system to be fair.”
“Reform and Strengthen”
She said Labor's plans would focus on “reforming and strengthening” the MAC, which provides independent advice to the Home Office on migration.
“He does very periodic checks and we want him to be able to look beyond on which occupations are on the shortage occupations list, but also on what time frame would be reasonable,” Ms Cooper said. “How long should they be on the list of scarce professions?”
Labor notes that some professions, such as nurses and civil engineers, have been on the list for 15 years.
“Currently, professions remain on the list of professions in short supply and they rarely ever disappear,” she said. Ms. Cooper.
“There may be professions where you talk about really rare international skills, where there is always a need to be hired abroad, but there may be other areas where it’s really about the lack of training here in the UK and it shouldn’t be on the skills shortage list.”
At the same time, Labor will link MAC with their new planned skills development body, Skills England, to ensure training plans are designed to fill the shortage of local workers.
Steve Barclay, Minister of Health, West Suffolk Hospital. Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Pugh for Telegraph
Ms. Cooper said the MAC would also get more resources and more freedom to determine its own work, instead of being authorized by the Home Office. “He should be able to respond much more quickly to the complex problems that arise in the labor market,” she said. Labor has already committed to repeal the current rule that allows businesses to hire workers from a list of hard-to-find occupations at a 20 percent discount from the current rate.
And Ms. Cooper has not ruled out raising the minimum wage. for companies wishing to hire qualified workers from abroad. “We believe MAC should always seek advice on this,” she said.
Mr Barclay has pushed for further loosening of visa controls for healthcare workers to fill gaps in the NHS, but his latest remarks suggest an acknowledgment that recent health ministry warnings that the UK's dependence on foreign medics has reached “unsustainable” levels. /p>NHS Human Resources Strategy
His speech comes ahead of the release of the NHS Human Resources Strategy next month, which will outline plans to dramatically increase the number of local doctors to avoid a looming shortage of more than half a million workers.
The Telegraph understands the strategy will propose greater use of artificial intelligence, including “robot administrators” to free up staff time, while calling for a doubling of nursing training places.
Latest numbers show record numbers . of foreign nurses are coming to the UK, accounting for nearly half of the recruits.
Rishi Sunak insisted last week that the Conservatives had not lost control of the rise in immigration despite Cabinet concerns about the likelihood of a serious backlash against this issue in the next election.
Mr Barclay said it is “necessary to hire foreigners in the short term due to the immediate problems we face” in the form of Covid backlogs.
But he added: “There is recognition that we need to train more domestically, not least because over time globally, the competition to attract labor will become more competitive. When I was in Japan with the G7 health leaders, [it was clear] that other G7 countries were facing labor shortages.”