UK Government Plans Training ‘Bootcamps’ to Address Worker Shortages Amid Immigration Cuts

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The UK government is set to introduce skills “bootcamps” to train unemployed individuals for jobs in sectors such as hospitality, social care, and logistics.

This initiative, announced by Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary, aims to address potential worker shortages resulting from a crackdown on migrant visas.

Stride will highlight that, for too long, the UK has relied on labour from abroad and emphasize the need to tap into the “hidden army” of British workers. This approach is part of a broader strategy to reduce dependency on overseas workers by harnessing domestic talent.

The bootcamps will initially target the 1.5 million unemployed individuals who are actively seeking work. However, the government intends to expand the programme to include the 2.8 million long-term sick and others currently outside the workforce.

Stride expressed concern about the rise in “hidden unemployment” and the economically inactive population, which includes seven million people not engaged in work or study. He stressed the importance of integrating these individuals into the workforce to help them reap the financial, social, and health benefits of employment.

Last week, Stride and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt emphasised the availability of “ample opportunities” for the unemployed and outlined plans to assist them in finding work. The new visa rules, expected to reduce immigration by 300,000 people annually, present a challenge for certain sectors but also an opportunity for domestic job seekers to fill these roles.

Jobcentre training schemes, skills bootcamps, and revised recruitment rules will be utilised to fill vacancies with British workers. The government also aims to encourage employers to make simple changes to attract workers, such as improving access to public lavatories to encourage more women to take up HGV driving.

Funding for these initiatives will come from the £2.5 billion allocated to existing back-to-work programmes, like the Restart scheme, which provides tailored job support to the long-term unemployed. The government is adopting a carrot-and-stick approach, threatening to cut off benefits from unemployed individuals who do not accept job offers after 12 months of support.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is positioning welfare reform as a key issue for the upcoming election, arguing that Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer would avoid making necessary changes to reduce the costs of sickness benefits and encourage people back into work.

Alison McGovern, Labour’s acting shadow work and pensions secretary, criticized the Conservative approach, stating, “The Conservatives have run down our skills and training system. And we now have record levels of net migration. They should be putting in place proper plans to tackle worker shortages and adopting Labour’s plans to connect the immigration system to skills, not setting up another talking shop. Labour has a plan to get Britain working by cutting NHS waiting lists, reforming job centres, making work pay, and supporting people into good jobs.”

This new initiative represents a significant effort by the UK government to address the impending worker shortages caused by stricter immigration policies, focusing on utilizing domestic talent through targeted training and support programs.

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