Low-skilled workers would not get visas under immigration plans unveiled by the government.
Announcing its plans for after Brexit, the government is urging employers to “move away” from relying on “cheap labour” from Europe and invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.
Home Secretary Priti Patel claimed the new system would see “the brightest and the best... come to the United Kingdom”.
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However, The Guardian says industry bosses have accused the government of an assault on the economy and warned of “disastrous” consequences with job losses and closures in factories and the high street.
Tom Hadley, director of policy at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, said: “The announcement threatens to shut out the people we need to provide services the public rely on.
“We need access to workers that can help us look after the elderly, build homes and keep the economy strong.”
UKHospitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls, said “ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time would be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people”.
The CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn said in “some sectors, firms would be left wondering how they would recruit the people needed to run their businesses”.
Politicians have also condemned the plan. Labour’s shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott, said the demand for immigrants to speak English was “dog-whistle stuff”.
She added: “Are we really going to block maths geniuses whose English isn’t great? It’s inhumane and damaging.”
The government is proposing a points-based immigration system. Under the plan, overseas workers would have to speak English and have the offer of a skilled job with an “approved sponsor” to reach 50 points.
Would-be immigrants would have to reach 70 points to be able to work in the UK, with points also being awarded for qualifications, the salary on offer and working in a sector with shortages.
The BBC’s home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says for EU migrants who are used to moving freely between Britain and the continent, the new regime will be “something of a shock”.
However, The Sun argues that “it’s simply not fair that Brits have been squeezed out of jobs by big companies taking advantage of cheap foreign labour”.
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