The Financial Times reports that businesses and the education sector have recently asked the UK government to relax Visa restrictions for foreign workers.
The enquiry, which came in the form of a joint letter, to four UK ministers, stated that firms within these sectors are concerned about the growing supply chain issues which are plaguing not only the UK, but European nations too.
The popular story in the past few weeks has been regarding the rising fuel prices amongst almost all European economies as a labour shortage regarding HGV drivers has made it so that petrol, or other types of fuel, cannot be delivered towards businesses such as petrol stations.
This of course creates a problem within the supply chain as a shortage of 100,000 lorry drivers, as reported by the BBC, is yielding slowdowns in some of the most important areas of the economy.
Sky News reported that during the peak of the panic buying firms which supply petrol through petrol stations reported that 90% of their sites had ‘run dry.’
This sparked a concern over the security of the supply chain for essential workers, especially the NHS.
Because of this, there were worries that the NHS would run out of fuel for a portion of its Ambulance service, a situation which places the NHS in an ugly situation as the health service would be met with a terrible opportunity cost of who to save with their scarce fuel supply.
At the same time, the UK’s gas shortage, which has impacted food supplies, also had an impact on the NHS as the UK saw a shortage of CO2, which is used in certain medical operations.
Nevertheless, fears of the NHS running out of resources have seemed to die down, this is likely due to the fact that panic buying has slowed down, especially in Northern regions of the UK where petrol is stored, and, the use of military tankers to supply fuel during the crisis has likely taken some pressure away.
Despite this the UK is facing a labour shortage in HGV, however, there are also other sectors of the economy which are beginning to see a decreasing labour force.
This is because the introduction of Brexit has made it increasingly difficult for migrants from lower skilled backgrounds to come migrate to the UK.
The new Visa system also reportedly makes highly skilled migrants less likely to migrate, for example, the UK’s financial sector has also called for relaxed Visa restrictions as this booming sector believes it is necessary for the UK to easily access the best minds of the world, wherever they might be.
At the same time, increasing the barriers for migration for lower skilled migrants, or what we perceive as low skilled, has adverse effects for the UK economy.
This is because although the work is perceived as low skill, we would argue that the backbreaking work which some ambitious individuals come to the UK to do requires a lot more skill and determination than some would like to admit.
For this reason, sectors of the economy such as agriculture, and the meat industry have been starved of labour due to Brexit as there is nobody around who wants to do these jobs.
Therefore, the benefits of migration are vast, migrants usually come to do jobs which nobody wants, because of this, wages of natives do not depreciate, and, because these migrants are earning wages and spending them domestically, demand for goods and services rises, thus promoting growth.
Consequently, for this reason, UK businesses have urged the government to relax Visa restrictions.
However, although the economic benefits of migration are vast, there is an underlying social issue.
If migrants do work which is seen by natives to be low skilled, or, perhaps of a lower class, this creates a sort of a glass floor society where migrants doing these jobs may be perceived to be less important compared to their native counterparts as they do these jobs which nobody wants to do.
The nature of economics means that this is a very difficult issue for us to solve as at the end of the day, this problem requires a shift in perspective for society as a whole, which is very difficult for the study of economics to solve.
Written by Hubert Kucharski