Posted on Sep 25, 2021
Despite having more than 1.5 million unemployed - the rate is currently 4.6% unemployment and rising, possibly to 5.6% in 2022, - Boris Johnson's government is preparing to issue 5,000 visas to EU workers, initially to fill the address the shortage of HGV and tanker drivers. In a post-Brexit environment, UK employers cannot - or rather will not - wean themselves off of reliance on the cheap workforce that EU membership provided, writes Gary Cartwright.
A temporary visa scheme for tanker drivers has been announced, with "about 5,000" temporary visas to be issued. The scheme is expected to run until Christmas Eve, but do not for one moment expect that to happen.
In the meantime, as petrol stations run out of fuel, calls grow for the Army to be drafted in to help out.
The Army have already helped out in over-stretched NHS hospitals, in rolling out Britain's Covid vaccination program, and in administering Covid tests. Which of the country's other failings will the troops be asked to address next? Will they be drafted in to help teach primary school pupils to read and count?
Brexit was supposed to protect British workers jobs. That promise has not survived the first weeks of tanker driver shortage crisis. Employing British workers on a fair wage is clearly not an option employers are prepared to consider - cheaper Poles and Latvians are what industry wants, and that is what industry will get.
However, British Conservative MP Tobias Elwood has come up with an even more imaginative means of addressing the problem: "We could retrain hundreds of Afghan refugees many of them are over here, they drove much bigger HGVs in their own countries," he said.
Training British youngsters to fill the skills gaps would of course require long-term planning and investment, and therefore that would appear to be completely out of the question.
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