The Confederation of British Industry is concerned about labour shortages, especially in areas that could impact on food supply. They want the government to make it easier for migrant workers to come to those jobs in the UK.
The government’s response is that they should hire British workers. But, even leaving aside the nationalism here, the work talked about most in the press is HGV drivers. The other jobs the CBI identifies labour shortages in are butchers, construction workers, engineers and IT specialists.
None of those jobs can be done by someone immediately. Some jobs listed as having shortages need three-year apprenticeships. Training is key, and as a long-term strategy, not a quick fix. It’s why Labour’s National Education Service was such a good idea.
The last time I was unemployed for a few months, back in 2011, the only training I was “offered” (offered as in: go on it or we’ll take away your JSA) was a CV writing course.
Farmers are saying they will have to start destroying tens of thousands of pigs because there aren’t enough butchers. They have to pay extra to get a pig butchered if it’s above a certain weight, so slaughtering is time-sensitive.
Supermarkets say they need to start building stock for Christmas from this month. There’s some comedy in seeing Johnson mess up Christmas two years in a row, but food shortages and panic buying aren’t fun.
It would be utterly wretched of the labour movement went along with nationalism, turning native-born workers against migrant workers, especially in the midst of the Afghan refugee crisis.
But the Tories have neglected unemployed workers for over a decade. Now they expect them to jump into the breach and save the country from the twin blows of Brexit and Covid.
The answer? Open the borders with provisions for Covid safety, increase pay and improve conditions for native-born and migrant workers, make universal credit a liveable amount of money, introduce training for the unemployed that leads to good, unionised, paid work.