New Temporary Visa for HGV Drivers and Poultry Workers
The news in the UK has been dominated by the lack of this and lack of that. Most recently, the lack of HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) drivers resulting in the shortage of food and petrol have stolen all the headlines.
Some blamed #Brexit. Some blamed the #COVID pandemic, and some, the combination of the two.
The reality is that whatever and whoever to blame, there are empty shelves to a more or lesser degree in some supermarkets and very scary queues (and angry people) at petrol stations.
Businesses have been warning about such shortages for a while. The same companies have asked for relaxation of visa schemes in our post-Brexit world in the hope to ease this pain.
The Government has been very reluctant to offer a quick fix based on visas but has finally succumbed to the pressure (and media frenzy) and offered a temporary visa route for HGV Drivers and Poultry Workers.
The Government has announced on Saturday that 5,000 temporary visas will be granted to HGV Drivers, and 5,500 visas will be granted to poultry workers to ease the issues we face. The visas scheme (to be implemented in October 2021) will end on 24 December 2021.
Details of this have not been made fully available by the #UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) yet apart from a press release. However, our immediate concerns are:
Who will want to come to the UK at this time when Europe is having the same issue?
The visa scheme is to start in October. The general processing of visas takes between 5 working days (with priority services at a cost) or 15 working days (standard) to be processed. Essentially, no drivers or workers on that scheme will be in the UK until late October to early November. How will this help the situation? Again, who will want to effectively come to the UK for just a month or so to work?
Are the numbers proposed enough to resolve the issue?
Whilst these concerns are unlikely to be answered immediately, the so-called 'crisis' as dubbed by the media headlines should stand as a reminder and lesson for employers (and Government ministers alike) about talent and talent acquisition.
Global Mobility Planning, talent acquisition, talent retention, visa schemes and government policies are all interrelated in ensuring a functioning workforce (thus economy). Employers should never be complacent about a single source of talent and plan different routes and strategies (including visa and mobility) for their workers.
On the other hand, the Government must accept that shortage, short and long term immigration 'fixes' are necessary and putting out fires may not help the overall aim.
A crisis will come and go. It's what we do during a crisis that will help us shape our future.
For now, one would hope that the new visa scheme will ease some of the pain and breathing room for employers and the general public.
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