Social care bosses face tougher rules on hiring senior care workers from outside Europe, prompting fears that existing recruitment problems will worsen.
Sector leaders criticised the Home Office’s decision to remove the senior care worker role from the shortage occupation list. It followed advice from the Migration Advisory Committee that enough resident workers could be recruited.
Thirteen per cent of care workers in England come from outside the European Economic Area, according to the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care. The top three countries for arrivals were the Philippines, India, and Nigeria.
Many providers were already “heavily dependent on migrant workers, especially in more affluent areas of the country”, said Les Clarke, director of strategy and service development for Housing 21, which runs care services in England.
“Despite the increase in unemployment and the financial pressures that families are experiencing, it remains difficult to recruit staff into social care. Certainly what we don’t need is anything to make it even more difficult.”
The Migration Advisory Committee acknowledged that a “number of partners” expressed concern that the decision would intensify staff shortages in social care, but said “further efforts will be needed to attract, retain and up-skill resident workers”.
The rules form part of the government’s policy to restrict working visas only to the most highly skilled.
Removal from the shortage occupation list prevents employers recruiting senior care workers from outside the European Economic Area without first trying to recruit locally, through Jobcentre Plus and by placing adverts in the media. If they are unsuccessful, they can then they look to sponsor a candidate from outside the EEA, which comprises all EU member states, plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein. Although Switzerland is not in the EEA, its nationals share the same rights.
UK immigration minister Damian Green said the changes would allow firms “to bring in people with necessary skills without migrants becoming the first resort to fill a wide range of available jobs”.
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