With only 5 months to go until the UK leaves Europe and the chances of a no-deal exit mounting the future is unclear when it comes to what the immigration policy will look like.
Tighter controls on low-skilled migration post Brexit could exclude a high percentage of the EU’s cleaning workforce and create a huge shortfall in staffing levels that may be hard to recover from.
At present, 63% of back of house staff in hotels and restaurants in the UK which includes cleaning operatives come from other countries within the EU and a further 12% come from further afield and with UK unemployment figures standing at 1.36 million in July of this year, the potential impact on the industry could be catastrophic.
150 industry leaders recently travelled to Parliament to push for ministers to ensure that any future policy will include a quick and easy visa system that protects the industries workforce and not just “high skilled” workers who Theresa May has already indicated will be prioritised. Who’s to say that a multilingual cleaning operative or housekeeper is not highly skilled?
The uncertainty around Brexit is having an impact on the number of people seeking work in the UK and we need people who want to work in the cleaning industry and have the skills to do so, here at USS we have seen the decline in applications for roles we advertise.
Add to this, projections that show there will be 200,000 fewer 15-24 year olds in the UK by 2020 the industry will have to continue to look beyond the UK for our future staff if we are to keep up with current growth in other sectors e.g. hospitality.
Perhaps now is the time to stop saying “low” and “high-skilled” and instead focus on the different types of skills that are required for different industries, all of which add value to the economy. It’s important that we encourage UK residents to work in the industry through training and development etc.and that a new immigration policy is implemented and we take back control of our borders but any new policy has got to work for the economy too.