Out of work Britons called on to plug labour shortages as visa rules tightened

Out of work Britons will be offered places on “skills bootcamps” as part of a Government bid to plug gaps in the labour market which were previously filled by overseas workers.

Benefits claimants will be given training for roles in key sectors facing shortages including hospitality, care, construction and manufacturing, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is expected to announce.

In a speech on Tuesday, the Cabinet minister will say the UK has relied on foreign labour “for too long” and “I am determined to put that right”.

Cabinet meeting
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride will say he wants to ‘put Brits first’ as he announced the measures (Lucy North/PA)

The measures include a ban on overseas care workers bringing over family dependants, a drastically hiked salary threshold for skilled workers to £38,700 and reforms to make it harder for Britons earning under the national average to bring over foreign spouses.

Mr Stride is expected to acknowledge that the rules, which aim to reduce the number of people arriving in Britain by 300,000 a year, present a “recruitment challenge” for employers but will insist the Government is building a new economic model “based on British talent”.

“It’s a plan providing more opportunities for people here at home to get on, to progress, and to increase their pay,” he will say.

“I know this presents a recruitment challenge for some employers in certain sectors, particularly those that have relied more on migration in the past.

“But this is also a huge opportunity for the thousands of jobseekers within our domestic workforce to move into roles that have previously been filled by overseas workers.”

It will draw on the measures introduced to target the shortage of HGV drivers, which included skills “bootcamps” and Jobcentre training schemes, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said.

“My message to businesses is clear: our jobcentre teams stand ready to help you find the right candidate, and we want to work with you to overcome recruitment challenges,” Mr Stride will say.

“And my message is also to the British people. 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 dismissed the plan as “another talking shop” and said more drastic measures were needed after official figures showed net migration hit a record-breaking 745,000 in 2022.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Alison McGovern MP said: “After 14 years of Tory failure, Mel Stride cannot escape the Tory record on work.

“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 tackle worker shortages and adopting Labour’s plans to connect the immigration system to skills, not setting up another talking shop.

“Labour have a plan to get Britain working by cutting NHS waiting lists, reforming jobcentres, making work pay and supporting people into good jobs across every part of the country. Change with Labour cannot come soon enough.”

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokeswoman, Wendy Chamberlain, said: “In many ways this is an admission that the Conservatives have no plan to tackle the biggest reason that people are unable to work, which is that NHS waiting lists are through the roof.

“Thousands are struggling to access the healthcare they need, meaning people are unable to go back to work.

“This Conservative Government has neglected our NHS which is continuing to damage the country’s economic recovery. We will only get the economy back fighting fit by fixing the health crisis.”

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