New prime minister Liz Truss will push for reforms to the immigration system, allowing businesses to recruit more staff from overseas.
She plans a review of the UK visa system in a bid to tackle acute labour shortages, including changes to the shortage occupation list and lifting the cap on seasonal workers.
Truss has reportedly told colleagues that she wants to recruit overseas broadband engineers to support a government pledge to make fibre broadband available to 85% of homes by 2025.
The shortage occupation list details which roles are deemed to be in short supply by the UK government, and follows recommendations from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC).
These roles are easier and cheaper to recruit for due to lower visa fees and the removal of the resident labour market test, meaning employers don’t have to prove there is no suitable local worker for the role.
There have also been reports that the English language requirement necessary for some visas will be eased.
Last year, a shortage of seasonal workers led to concerns about potential food shortages as companies in the food production and processing sector struggled to keep up with demand.
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme last year allowed 38,000 workers into the UK on a six-month visa.
The Federation of Small Businesses has asked MAC to conduct a full review of the shortage occupation list “to cover all job roles that are in shortage irrespective of skill level”, according to Craig Beaumont, chief of external affairs.
Changes to the immigration rules to allow more foreign workers to enter the UK is likely to meet with resistance from Brexit supporters in Truss’ cabinet, for whom controlled migration was a key issue.
The government has already launched a number of changes to visa rules this year, including a new High Potential Individual visa route for graduates from select global universities, a new Global Business Mobility visa, and a Scale up Visa for fast-growing company founders.