After Brexit EU migration for work must be reserved for highly-skilled roles with a limit of 30,000 a year

September 21, 2016

An annual limit of 30,000 work permits for EU migration should be sufficient to allow businesses access to the skills they require while also achieving a reduction of about 100,000 a year in net migration from the EU over the medium term.

That is the finding of a paper being released by Migration Watch UK.

Migration Watch UK has previously argued that new immigration rules should minimise disruption to the many links between Britain and Europe.

We are leaving the EU, not leaving Europe. To that end there should be no restrictions on tourists, business visitors, students, or retired people.

However, those who wish to come for work must be confined to highly-skilled roles necessary for sustainable economic growth.

The paper argues that a limit of 30,000, along the same lines as the current yearly limit of 20,700 restricting non-EU workers to highly-skilled roles, should be placed on EU migrants arriving for work in the UK.

Analysis of the Labour Force Survey finds that EU arrivals who are now in jobs that would qualify as highly-skilled - requiring qualifications of graduate level or above - have averaged 25,000 per year since 2006.

We have assumed that all of those currently working in a highly-skilled role or in a job on the Shortage Occupation List entered the country to work at that level. This ensures that we are not underestimating the historical demand of employers for highly-skilled EU workers.

An annual limit of 30,000 (25,000 per year plus 5,000 to allow for growth) would ensure that business needs were unhindered.

Migration Watch UK has previously found that reducing net migration into lower-skilled work could reduce EU migration by around 100,000 a year.

The independent Migration Advisory Committee has reported that migration into lower-skilled work brings little or no benefit to the budget, production per head or productivity, while it does of course add to pressure on population, schools, hospitals, transport and housing.

It is to be expected that British citizens travelling to other parts of Europe to work will also need to apply for a work permit.

Commenting, Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said:

A sensible limit on skilled EU migration would maintain the inflow of qualified EU workers who benefit our society and economy while allowing some room for expansion. At the same time, closing our doors to low-skilled workers is also essential to reduce the scale of immigration and restore public confidence in its control.

To read our briefing paper setting out a proposed post-Brexit immigration policy, published in January 2016, click here.

To read the Migration Advisory Committee report ‘Work Immigration and the Labour Market’, published in July 2016, click here.

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