New immigration plans will exacerbate skills crisis in logistics sector, industry groups warn

An income-based threshold on immigration will make it even harder for logistics businesses to recruit the staff they need to fill vital roles, industry groups are warning.

It follows the publication of the Government’s new immigration plans that include a possible £30,000 minimum salary threshold for EU nationals.

“The Government should be setting out an immigration policy based on what the country needs, not on arbitrary salary criteria,“ commented Richard Burnett, Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association.

 “Many of the skilled jobs the economy relies on won’t meet the proposed threshold, leaving employers struggling to fill vacancies, and stunting economic growth. 

“Today's White Paper on immigration after Brexit ignores the very real needs and concerns of the logistics industry, which supports every facet of the UK economy,” he added.

Sally Gilson, Head of Skills Campaigns at the Freight Transport Association, said the White Paper ignores the needs and concerns of the logistics industry and could be “catastrophic” for a sector already experiencing significant skills shortages.

She added: “With skills shortages already being experienced among many logistics careers, including HGV drivers (currently 52,000 short), warehouse workers and forklift operators. The loss of almost a quarter of a million European workers, currently employed in these logistics roles in the UK are no longer deemed ‘skilled’ by the government could be catastrophic. Especially for a sector which relies on these people and their particular knowledge and abilities to keep shelves stocked, factories supplied and businesses able to access the materials they need.”

The FTA is urging government to redirect unused apprenticeship levy funding, which it says cannot be accessed due to a lack of relevant apprenticeship standards, into training for those wishing to enter the sector but are ineligible for traditional apprenticeship funding. 

Gilson added: “Without this reallocation of funds, there will be insufficient staff to replace the European workers on which logistics depends.”