Brexit: Free Movement - should it continue?

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Brexit: Free Movement – should it continue?

Now I am going to be brave enough to poke my head above the parapet and discuss Brexit, and even worse free movement within the Schengen area.

With a new headline, and more recently a resignation, every day Brexit is unavoidable, and everyone including our government seems to have differing views. A key cornerstone of the European Union is free movement and with the exit date fast approaching the government must decide what this looks like post 29th March.

The Prime Minister’s announcement from Chequers that a deal had been reached also suggested that EU citizens could be given preferential rights to come to the UK. The prime minister insisted freedom of movement will end when Britain leaves the EU but said the issue of whether to give citizens of European countries special treatment has yet to be decided. 

Under the proposal, freedom of movement between the UK and the EU will end but a "mobility framework" will be set up to make it easier for people to travel between the two, including for study and work.

The details of the UK's immigration policy after Brexit remain a sticking point between cabinet ministers *shock*. In a recent interview with the BBC, the prime minister said: "What I'm clear about is that we will bring an end to free movement.” Asked if this meant EU citizens could get different preferential treatment, she said: "We are going to decide. What we're going to do is say what works for the UK - what's right for the United Kingdom? We will put our national interest."

The UK economy could and is currently losing out on billions of pounds of revenue due to a lack of digital skills. Those are the stark conclusions of two recent reports which somehow manage to complement and contradict each other at the same time.

The first of these, produced by e-skills UK, the Sector Skills Council for business and information technology, suggests the UK digital sector will need nearly 300,000 new recruits by 2020 if it is to reach its full potential.

Meanwhile, another study commissioned by O2, claims Britain needs 750,000 additional digitally skilled workers by 2018 if it is to maximise a ‘£12bn economic opportunity’ (the potential value of the sector according to the organisation Development Economics).

As IT recruitment professionals, we are all well aware of the number of opportunities for Developers, Analysts and Programmers which are difficult to fill due to skills shortages, what the government needs to do is secure a plan that allows the migration of skilled workers, where there is a need in the UK economy, from all over the world, as well as pumping investment into training and education across many routes for the many young people who could succeed in an IT career who do not have the desire to go on to higher or further education.

If we hit the 29th march with ‘no deal’ and no clear plan for how to fill an ever-growing skills shortage then businesses will be forced to secure talent from outside the UK. Whilst free movement might not be perfect it does at least allow businesses to attempt to cope with a systemic skills shortage.