Brexit and Access to Skills

  • The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), an independent body which gives the government advice, published its report on EEA (European Economic Area) migration in the UK in September 2018. 
  • The committee recommended that there should be a less restrictive regime for higher-skilled workers than for lower-skilled workers in a system where there is no preference for EEA over non-EEA workers. The committee also suggested changes to the current scheme in place if it is extended to EEA workers, in particular the removal of the cap, and extension to medium skilled workers (though maintaining a minimum salary threshold).
  • Theresa May has confirmed that high-skilled workers would be prioritised in the immigration process with no preferential treatment for people from the EEA compared with those from the rest of the world. 
  • The committee also said Britain may be able to offer preferential access for EU citizens in return for other benefits in Brexit talks such as trade; however this does not seem to be favoured by the government.
  • Despite some conflicting remarks, it appears that citizens from the EEA will be able to remain in the UK, as long as they are living in the UK by December 2020, regardless of a deal or ‘no deal’ scenario under the settlement scheme. Further details are expected in late 2018 in the form of an immigration white paper and Immigration Bill.
  • Reports are that students should still be able to access UK university courses post EU exit. Residency arrangements will be subject to the conditions as above.
  • According to Universities UK, approximately 6% of students at higher education institutions in the UK are from the EU. Currently those students can stay in the UK after finishing their studies and seek work. We are concerned that after December 2020 talented EU graduates who don’t immediately meet the requirements for immigration may be lost to the food science and technology skill-base available to UK employers. We therefore support the call for new post-study arrangements.