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We must manage legal migration better to fill skills gaps.

November 22, 2018 10:56 AM
By Tony Clayton

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Britain must attract people with all sorts of skills to prosper, as well as training local people better. That doesn't only apply to highly paid professionals. It also includes agriculture, care, construction, hospitality, and other workers who government regard as 'unskilled'. But successful employers know the truth.

Britain has built an immigration system designed to ensure we won't get them. During a period, when jobs were scarce elsewhere, we built expensive, bureacratic, cruel and ineficient schemes to deter people.

Anyone dealing with the Home Office, as applicant or employer, learns that its objective is to to kick people out of the UK. Officials are incentivised to do it on the slightest pretext, no matter what contribution workers are making or how long they have been here.

Teresa May's 'hostile environment' didn't only hit illegal immigrants, it made everyone a suspect. The Windrush scandal is the tip of the iceberg - broadcast across the world. It made Britain much less attractive place to come, and must be scrapped. Extra barriers to family reunion introduced by Teresa May which deter people we need should also be scaled back.

Liberal Democrats would issue work visas through the Department for Business - which knows what it's doing. We should build on the Canadian visa system based on skills, experience, and demand - without the UK's arbitrary targets keeping doctors out of hospitals which desperately need them. Canada's 'occupational mobility' system, identifying jobs which can be filled without visas, also looks attractive.

We would stop wasting money on idiotic demands for detailed documents on residency going back years for people who have clearly been in the UK for decades. The money saved would be used to rebuild an effective, accountable Border Force, which has been decimated by cuts. This would tackle the trafficking gangs who profit from today's leaky controls.

Tony Clayton