Warehousing Logistics Brexit Skills Crisis

A British law firm has reported a huge rise in immigration enquiries from warehousing and logistics firms looking to employ foreign workers, as the UK’s post-Brexit skills crisis and shortage continues.

Employment lawyers at legal firm Aaron & Partners have seen a significant increase in immigration work from businesses in the sector for staff such as logistic managers, HGV mechanics, warehouse managers and HGV drivers. They added that it’s showing no signs of easing.

Adam Haines, an Immigration and Employment Law Partner, noted that while the rise in businesses applying for sponsor licences began in the wake of the UK leaving the European Union, it has become particularly prevalent over the past 12 months.

He said: “There’s a growing skills shortage in the UK and with historically low levels of unemployment, many companies are turning to other countries to address these issues. We have been working with companies, operating in the UK and entering the UK market, to assist and advise them on the processes and educate staff on the compliance obligations. We’ve seen a huge increase in demand from companies that need help to fill vacancies. The shortages are particularly acute in the warehousing and logistics sector, where we’re working hard to help companies bring in skilled drivers, operators and more.”

The rise in enquires comes as labour shortages continue to impact the sector, combining with the cost of living crisis engulfing the UK. Haines, said that he hoped that the pending trade agreements (particularly the imminent Australian trade agreement) due to come into force later this year should incorporate a mobility deal to simplify the process of hiring expertise and personnel from Australia.
He added that as well as warehousing, shortages are most prevalent in manufacturing and healthcare.

Freedom of movement between the UK and EU was ended in 2020, following Brexit. Now, regardless of their country of origin, foreign nationals looking for employment in the UK must gain a valid visa route, for which there are various requirements. For business to hire foreign nationals they must have a sponsor licence.

Businesses are now contacting Aaron & Partners for help processing these applications as quickly as possible and to ensure that they are aware of their compliance obligations. Haines added: “We know this is a massive concern for many businesses right now. Brexit may have been voted for over six years ago, but much of its impact is really being felt now due to the restraints it placed on immigration, which has contributed to the current skills shortage here. This is an ongoing issue that isn’t going away – and we think it will run throughout 2023 and beyond. Currently there is a major lack of understanding and awareness as to (i) what recruiting foreign nationals entails, (ii) businesses compliance obligations are and also (iii) whether workers based in other countries can work temporarily in the UK as a visitor.”

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