The Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) has urged UK policy makers to follow the example of other countries and improve immigration options for the self-employed and independent contractors.
In its latest campaign, APSCo has highlighted the flexible visa options across the likes of Germany, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia as leading examples of how the UK can adapt to better address skills shortages.
Tania Bowers, Global Public Policy Director at APSCo, said, "The skills shortages across the UK are well documented, but plans to reskill the current population will not fill the gaps.
"International talent – particularly those from the flexible labour market – will be crucial to strengthening our economy.
"Current visa restrictions in the country do not allow for, or encourage, independent contractors or the self-employed to take up work here.
"If we look at the examples of other countries, we are lagging behind when it comes to innovative recruitment strategies.
“We strongly believe that accessible, simple to obtain visas for independent, non-employed contractors need to be readily available, almost mirroring the flexible visa options of Germany which is arguably one of the world leaders on this issue.
“APSCo has also advised policy makers that ‘permitted business’ needs to fall within the scope of the Standard Visitor visa. This could be a flexible, non-sponsored, short term visa route for highly skilled foreign employed and self-employed workers.
"The fast-track visa application that the Home Office utilised last year should also be expanded and allow for the leasing of visa holders from registered sponsors to hirers. Without action soon, the UK will lose out on key talent to other countries that are ahead of the curve."
Greg Storey, Team Leader – Engineering, Procurement and Construction at Astute, added, “Currently we are seeing huge demand for Design Managers, Design Coordinators and Planners for FEED studies across the energy from waste sector, as well as Design Leads for construction projects.
“As the majority of design work is subcontracted out to contractors, the main contractors are struggling to source suitable people within design.
“The UK is currently experiencing a deficit for people with these skills, so anything that would alleviate the talent shortages and enable business to push on with their projects would be welcomed.”
About Greg Storey
Greg Storey began his career at Astute in August 2017 as a Recruitment Consultant, before moving onto becoming a Senior, Principal and then Team Leader of the EPC Contract Team.
For a discussion about Astute’s talent solutions, including our contract offering, get in touch with us.