Scoring points in the EU employment game

It’s understandable that any new Prime Minister should want to put their stamp on their Government and Boris Johnson has proved no different. The new leader used his first address to the House of Commons to tackle the issue of immigration – an especially pertinent point as we hurtle headlong towards Halloween / January /  who knows when.. and our EU departure.

Johnson has made it clear that he is a fan of the Australian points-based immigration system and wants to apply this initiative to European workers coming to the UK as an immediate priority. Already the Migration Advisory Committee has been asked to review the system works in Australia and how it could be applied here. So we know it is coming but in what form remains unclear.

There have been mutterings within business sectors as to how a points-based system may shape our country’s future employment prospects – in terms of retaining current European workers, attracting new EU talent and impacting UK nationals who are seeking employment within their own country.

Analysts largely believe Johnson’s announcement is more of a placating move designed to be felt across all quarters, rather than a radical or alienating suggestion: calming the electorate who voted for tougher immigration rules and reassuring businesses that they will still be able to recruit skilled workers from overseas.

At this point in time, the finer details of a points-based system are unclear and we’re all working on a speculation and assumption basis. It’s yet to be decided what attributes points will be awarded for – perhaps age, qualifications, skills and experience. 

It’s been muted that EU applicants may only be granted permission to work if they can comfortably fill skilled roles that attract a set minimum wage – £30,000 per annum or above has been quoted in the press – and an additional idea about corporate sponsorships or attachments to particular companies for European workers has been floated (both based on the rules already in operation for workers coming from outside of the EU).

Potentially, it could be a combination of all of the above. As of yet, no one knows. There’s lots of engaging, consulting and discussing to be done with advisory bodies, business groups and within Government itself before anything is made clear, especially if Boris’s vision of  a ‘global Britain’ is to be realised to its full potential. 

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