The RHA and FTA have attacked the Migration Advisory Committee's call to favour high-skilled migrants after Brexit, warning it would amplify the skills shortage the logistics sector already faces.

The report published today (18 September) advises that workers from the European Economic Area should be subject to the same visa requirements as other migrants to the UK after Brexit. It also makes the case for high-skilled migrants to be given preference in regards attaining a visa to work in the UK.

Consistent with workers from outside the EU at present, the MAC said it saw no reason to offer an "explicit work migration route for low-skilled workers with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers schemes".

Despite this, it does not rule out offering EEA workers preferential treatment as part of the Brexit negotiations.

However, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett, said: “We need an immigration policy across all skill levels. It is about what our businesses need. The idea that only high skilled immigration should be allowed is both ignorant and elitist.”

“The logistics industry, like many other industries, needs skilled and semi-skilled staff, capable of meeting the needs of our customers. This includes lorry drivers, forklift drivers, transport managers, warehouse operatives and highly skilled logistics IT specialists.”

Read more

The FTA believes repeated warnings about the importance of lower-skilled migrants have been ignored by the MAC report.

FTA's head of skills Sally Gilson said: "The MAC report totally fails to recognise, and actively diminishes, the role of lower-skilled migrants within the UK's economy, which is hugely disappointing from a logistics point of view.”

“The job roles covered by these workers are often based in areas of low unemployment where competition for workers is already high, so Britain's supply chain could easily be at risk if they are forced to return to their home countries.  Yes, highly skilled workers are valuable to the economy, but so too are those whose work keeps us able to operate at home and at work, 24 hours a day.”

There is currently a shortage of around 52,000 HGV drivers across the UK, according to the FTA.