June 28, 2019 @ 14:37 by Alison Cowie
The Home Secretary Sajid Javid met North East England Chamber of Commerce members to hear their views on immigration at a meeting last night at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum.
Sajid Javid opened the discussion stressing even though the UK is leaving the EU, we should still be seen as a welcoming country where students and skilled workers can build their knowledge and careers.
He said: “Over the next 12 months we are gathering opinions from a range of sectors on how to manage our UK-designed immigration process. It is vitally important we design a system which allows our businesses to grow and create jobs. They need to be able to employ the best person no matter where they come from.”
The Home Secretary also stressed he wanted to see more overseas students come to the UK and stay after graduating.
Among the other issues raised by businesses was the need for the proposed post-Brexit salary threshold for skilled immigrant workers to be less than the £30k originally suggested by the Government. Concern was raised that this would preclude many North East University researchers, for example, as many of them work with senior academics moving to the UK, and would not be on that salary level.
Representatives from the region’s major employers and organisations including Newcastle International Airport, Sage plc, Womble Bond Dickinson, NGI, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities were able to put their views forward at the discussion.
Among their concerns was the shortage of skilled workers in technology and nursing in particular and what could be done to alleviate the problem, such as more English language support.
Businesses reported they were aware of employers losing talented people due to leaving the EU and their concern about whether they would be able to work in the UK in the long term.
In terms of tourism, it was also suggested it was made easier for overseas visitors from countries like India and China to visit the North East, as well as the need for a more proactive marketing campaign, to stress the UK is an open country open for business and leisure.