Allow flexibility in standard of English required for a Tier 2 visa for A rated Sponsors who have to recruit outside the EU in shortage professions.

 

The UKBA points based system is not fit for purpose when it comes to servicing the needs of companies recruiting staff from outside the EU to work in shortage occupations. The absolute requirement that an applicant must have passed a specific English exam when the standard they have achieved is acceptable to the company who wants to employ them is an unnecessary level of interference from the government.

I believe the best way forward is to add flexibility and judgement to the points based system, and let A-rated Sponsors recruit people even if they don't have the qualification that UKBA specify, on the understanding that the sponsor will put the immigrant through English classes in order to allow their visa to be extended if required.

Why does this idea matter?

 

The UKBA points based system is not fit for purpose when it comes to servicing the needs of companies recruiting staff to work in shortage occupations. The absolute requirement that an applicant must have passed a specific English exam when the standard they have achieved is acceptable to the company who wants to employ them is an unnecessary level of interference from the government.

While the situation may be different in other industries, I refer specifically to the hospitality trade and in particular the employment of chefs in restaurants. The reality is that restricting the employment of these individuals adversely affects all the other people working in the restaurant. In the end this situation restricts opportunities for British people and eventually loses jobs from the economy at a time of high unemployment.

The drive to get immigrants speaking English is perfectly understandable as everyone benefits in the long run. The UK points based system has two compulsory elements to employing a skilled overseas worker; they must show that they have sufficient money to not be a drain on the UK government and they must have passed an English exam that covers written, aural, oral and spoken tests. If the job is in a shortage profession and the company is an A rated Sponsor by the UKBA then the company can stand as guarantor for the financial independence of the immigrant.

The English exam specified is only available in a limited number of countries (none in sub-Sahara Africa) so the only option for most countries is to take a correspondence course from an British college and sit the exams in the UK embassy in their country. So having read all that, you might presume that the Government requires all immigrants to be able to read, write, speak and listen to English to a high level ?  Well not really because if you are from other country's where the 'majority' speak English, then you don't have to sit the exam !  Consequently there is now the farcical situation where an Ethiopian who can't speak a word of English but is living in the USA will be given a visa but an Ethiopian who can speak English but doesn't have the correct qualification, will be refused a visa.

The situation my company now faces is that because the preferred people can't be employed, the company has been forced to employ two non-English speaking Eritrean refugees as chefs in the restaurant despite them having no previous experience of working in a restaurant. There are two bad consequences that arise from this situation, firstly (from a business point of view) the quality and presentation of food is variable and so the restaurant's reputation is unsteady resulting in limited if any growth. Secondly (from an employee's point of view) as the staff need to talk with each other in the restaurant, so the staff must be able to speak Tiginya / Amharic in order to be able to work with these two people. Needless to say this need limits the pool of people who can work in the restaurant. 

Due to the use of non-skilled people in these (shortage) skilled roles, the restaurant has been unable to increase its customer base, so the initial (small) benefit to the UK of having two refugees working in the kitchen was negated when three people in the restaurant have now lost their jobs. If this continues for much longer, then everyone will lose their jobs.

The English speaking regulation in the UKBA points based system is responsible for three people losing their jobs and the generation of a non-English speaking workplace.

 

I believe the best way forward is to add flexibility and judgement to the points based system, and let A-rated Sponsors recruit people even if they don't have the qualification that UKBA specify, on the understanding that the sponsor will put the immigrant through English classes in order to allow their visa to be extended if required.

 

I would also suggest that the clause allowing people from 'English-speaking' country's to opt out of the need for this qualification be reviewed as it smacks of institutionalised racism. Either the need to speak English to such a high standard is real or it is not. If it is not, then stop making it compulsory for a visa. If it is real, then make sure everyone has one (unless sponsored as above). Treat people from different nations equally.

 

 

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