Temporary visas as a solution for UK’s worker shortage
According to the Office for National Statistics labour deficiencies in Britain had a record 1 million jobs between June and August. Just recently we saw an increased demand for fuel at all petrol stations, which resulted in large queues. The UK’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) says Britain needs 100,000 more drivers to meet demand.
Brexit and Covid-19 had caused the driver shortage and the loss of about a year of driver training and testing. Following the end of EU free movement at the start of 2021, all non-UK residents must now apply for a visa to work in the UK. The new points-based immigration system excluded any common ‘low skilled’ work visa routes.
In an attempt to avoid supply chain disruptions ahead of Christmas, the government has offered temporary UK visas to up to 10,500 lorry drivers and poultry workers. Temporary permits will be available for 5,500 poultry workers and 4,700 HGV food drivers.
It would be fair to suppose that the short number of visas under the scheme falls far short of the need – the reason for this is the capacities of the Home Office and the amount of cases which realistically can be processed during the short period of the scheme.
In terms of the applications deadlines, farms and poultry applicants have until November 15 to apply for the remaining visas, which expire on December 31. You must apply for HGV food driver temporary permits scheme by 1 December 2021 and it can expire on 28 February 2022.
Eligibility for the visa scheme is not be narrowed to certain nationalities, although it is assumed that the majority of applications will be made by European nationals.
Regarding the visa requirements, HGV food drivers must have an HGV licence acknowledged for use in the UK. The scheme is restricted to EU, EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Swiss licence holders only. They must hold a HGV (category C or C+E) licence.
The permits are being processed by the 4 companies — Concordia, Pro-force, AG Recruitment, Fruitful Jobs — that run the government’s Seasonal Workers Programme, which sources foreign labour for British farms.
The effectiveness of the temporary visas will probably depend on two conditions. First, whether migrant workers will be willing and capable to come to the UK – includes many factors such as finances, arrangements for travel and accommodation within a short timeframe.
Second, the ability of Home Office to manage and process the flood in applications. Considering this element, it must be taken into account that the UKVI has yet to get back to pre-COVID service levels.