A report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), published today (10 August), recommended the Government curtail its strict immigration target.
CBI issued a warning that labour shortages could worsen if the right immigration system is not in place, after the consultation of around 129,000 firms across different industries, including the hospitality sector.
All who come must contribute
CBI deputy director general Josh Hardie said a different form of “honest and open debate” was needed politically in order to create a new migration system that would ameliorate labour shortages.
He said: “Openness and control must not be presented as opposites. Public attitudes towards migration and the impacts it has on communities are far more nuanced.
"Scrapping blunt targets, ensuring all who come to the UK contribute and using the immigration dividend to support public services will add to public confidence.”
The survival of the economy is dependent on the UK presenting itself as “open and welcoming to the world,” he said.
Help get better deal
Hardie added: “That means putting migration on the table in trade talks to get us a better deal, first with the EU and then other countries where it is clear existing visa restrictions inhibit trade and foreign direct investment.”
The CBI said an attitude shift away from controlling numbers towards encouraging migrant contribution was needed, in addition to investments in public services that are facing increased demand.
Freedom of movement should be replaced with “an open and controlled immigration system for EU workers,” the report, titled Open and Controlled – A New Approach to Migration, recommended.
Trade organisation UKHospitality contributed to the report and endorsed the need for change to support EU citizens to protect the vitality of the industry.
Access to talent
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This report highlights the pressing need for a future immigration policy that exists to support the UK economy.
“The CBI’s report also underlines the need for a discussion about the realities and practicalities of migration to the UK and its effect on business.
“The hospitality sector is particularly in need of a future policy that provides employers with access to talent to support continued investment and growth, alongside our work to develop domestic talent.
“This means acknowledging the need for a variety of workers across the sector at many levels, not just those who are deemed highly skilled.
“We particularly welcome the recommendation to secure the rights of current EU citizens in the UK, regardless of an exit deal.”
The Home Office said it intends to keep an immigration target, which has been a net pace of tens and thousands per year since 2010.
Aims have not been met since the introduction of the target, which is usually in excess of 200,000 per year.
The Government is currently conducting its own report through the Migration Advisory Committee to evaluate the economic contribution of EU citizens, set to be published next month.