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Skills 'boot camps' introduced; minister claims UK has relied on foreign workers 'for too long'

May 21, 2024

The government plans to introduce "skills boot camps" to help benefit recipients return to work and fill job vacancies previously occupied by foreign workers.

On Tuesday, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride will announce job training initiatives for sectors with shortages, such as social care, hospitality, and construction. He will argue that the UK has relied on foreign workers for "too long" and is "determined to put that right".

This announcement precedes the release of new net migration statistics on Thursday, which will reveal the number of people who moved to and from the UK in 2023.

Previously, the 2022 statistics showed a record high of 745,000, sparking backlash from Conservative MPs who want to reduce the number.

To curb legal migration, the government has implemented measures like preventing students from bringing dependents and raising the salary threshold for visa eligibility.

However, some cabinet members have expressed concerns about the impact on UK universities and the workforce, as certain businesses struggle to find necessary staff.

In his speech, Mr. Stride will acknowledge the "recruitment challenge" of reducing migration numbers but believes the government can create "a new economic model based on British talent".

He will announce the formation of a cross-government ministerial task force to "develop recruitment initiatives" similar to the 2021 effort to recruit more HGV drivers, which also aims to "cut the benefits bill".

Mr. Stride will emphasize that this presents a significant opportunity for domestic job seekers to fill roles

previously occupied by overseas workers. He will urge businesses to collaborate with jobcentre teams to find suitable candidates and address recruitment challenges.

Mr. Stride will also appeal to the British public, stating, "For too long we have relied on labour from abroad when there is great talent right here in the UK - I am determined to put that right."

Labour responded critically to the plan. Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Alison McGovern remarked, "After 14 years of Tory failure, Mel Stride cannot escape the Tory record on work."

She added, "The Conservatives have run down our skills and training system. And we now have record levels of net migration.

"They should be putting in place proper plans to

address worker shortages and adopting Labour's proposals to connect the immigration system to skills, rather than establishing another talking shop."


Source: Sky News