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Business leaders have warned that the UK government’s plan to issue 10,500 temporary visas to truck drivers and agricultural workers to address labor shortages is not sufficient to resolve the crisis.
On Saturday night, the Department of Transport announced a series of steps to address the widespread shortage of truck drivers caused by the Brexit and Covid pandemic combination.
However, business leaders urged ministers to further relax restrictions to prevent confusion towards Christmas.
Ruby McGregor Smith, chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce, compared the announcement with “throwing a thimble on a bonfire.”
“Currently, some steps are being taken, but additional testing is time consuming and inadequate due to the small number of visas offered,” she said.
“Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum number of people allowed under the scheme, they are not enough to address the scale of the problems currently occurring in our supply chain.”
A shortage of drivers has created gaps in some supermarket shelves, resulting in longer lines of fuel at gas stations.
On Saturday, one of the largest gas station operators, BP, estimated about 10 to 15 percent of that. 1,200 stations across the UK There was a shortage of one or more grades of fuel and a few were closed.
In an announcement on Saturday night, DfT will have 5,000 HGV drivers existing visa schemes until December 24 to help the food and fuel industry, which is in short supply of drivers in the current “exceptional situation”. Said to be added to.
An additional 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be available to avoid further pressure on the food industry.
The announcement represents a major U-turn for the minister, who has repeatedly said for weeks that he does not want to relax Britain’s stricter post-Brexit immigration law.
The government argues that the long-term solution to the crisis is to train more UK-based drivers rather than relying on workers from the continent who returned after the UK left the EU. ing.
However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the minister to act swiftly to resolve the growing crisis and end the newspaper’s “Pump Panic” headline.
The government argued that additional visas would not be a long-term solution to the crisis. “Reforms within the industry are essential,” the statement said. “That’s why the government continues to help the industry solve this problem through improved testing and employment with better wages, working conditions and diversity.”
The shipping industry warns: Lack of skills for over 90,000 carriers It was caused by a shortage of EU workers and a long pause in training new British drivers during the pandemic.
Andrew Opy, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, warned that the number of new visas for foreign HGV drivers was not sufficient.
“The 5,000 visa limit has little effect on alleviating the current shortage,” he said. “We estimate that supermarkets alone will need at least 15,000 HGV drivers to be fully operational before Christmas and avoid confusion and availability issues.”
“To avoid the disappointment of millions of households during the holiday season, we urge the government to expand this program, both in size and scope,” he said.
Other policy changes designed to mitigate the crisis include training up to 4,000 new HGV drivers.
The Ministry of Education has invested up to £ 10m to create a free “skill boot camp” to train up to £ 3,000 of new HGV drivers.
The government said the remaining 1,000 would be trained through local courses funded by the government’s adult education budget.
Nearly one million letters will be sent to all drivers with an HGV driver’s license, urging them to return to the industry.
A Defense Ministry examiner will be assigned to help improve the testing capabilities of HGV drivers in the next 12 weeks.
Secretary of Transportation Grant Shapps said:
Food and Drink Federation CEO Ian Wright welcomed his “practical” decision to temporarily expand the visa system.
“This is what British food and beverage manufacturers have been asking for over the past few months … to ease some of the pressure that labor shortages put on the food supply chain,” he said. rice field. “This is the beginning, but the government needs to continue to work with the industry to find additional long-term solutions.”
UK issues temporary visas to truck drivers and agricultural workers
Source link UK issues temporary visas to truck drivers and agricultural workers