The UK creative, tech and tourism industries need sufficient access to talent to continue as world leaders. That is self evidently in the nature of being a global centre of excellence in these areas. The then Secretary of State, Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, said that Brexit is an opportunity to think about “how we can upskill our native workforce”, but this alone will not address the challenges that businesses face today particularly in an increasingly globalised and international sector. Brexit will place a greater urgency on developing the skills of the domestic workforce, but we cannot allow a skills gap to occur which could create shortages of essential workers for businesses in the UK as a result of our departure from the EU.
Effective policy cannot be developed if the Government underestimates the extent to which these thriving industries depend on staff drawn from the EU. It is essential, therefore, that the Government and its advisory bodies—including the Creative Industries Council, the Tourism Industry Council and the Migration Advisory Committee—take these considerations into account in their analysis of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s future labour market.
Simplicity should be a key feature of the future migration arrangements that the UK will agree with the EU….. We believe, therefore, that the Government should seek to retain free movement of people during any transitional period after the UK formally ceases to be a member of the EU in March 2019. If the visa system is to change subsequently, an intensive and detailed process of consultation with all those affected will need to begin as soon as possible.
Brexit provides an opportunity for the Government to overhaul the existing visa system. We believe that salary levels are a crude proxy for value and fail to recognize the central role that workers from the EU and beyond play in making British businesses successful. We recommend that the Government explores ways in which commercial value, and value to specific sectors of the economy, can be factored into the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.
The Government should publish a map of all EU funding streams that support tourism and creative projects, whether dedicated to this specific purpose or not. Thismapping exercise should:
• spell out where previous EU funding has, directly or indirectly, benefitted these sectors;
• indicate those streams that will need to be replaced;
• provide an overview of the total sum of funding that the UK government will provide to cover these costs; and
• clarify the role of the devolved administrations in the present arrangements and their proposed role in the future in the eyes of the UK Government.
In addition, the Treasury and DCMS should illustrate how ‘value for money’ will be measured in any assessment of those EU funds that will be honoured by the Government’s guarantee.
The Government should set out as a matter of urgency those areas where it believes that Brexit offers an opportunity for beneficial regulatory reforms and how it intends to capitalise on any such opportunities.
Given the potential benefits to the British tourist industry, while the Government is grappling with the challenges posed by Brexit, it would be wise to design a new system also to encourage more tourism from non-EU markets. We recommend that the Government publishes an analysis of how the visa system could be developed to boost inbound tourism by visitors from beyond the EU.