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Changes to the immigration system means we need to spend more on skills

20 May 2019

The Home Secretary published a white paper today setting out plans for a skills-based immigration system. In response Julian Gravatt, Deputy Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, said: "The government plans that most of these changes will come into effect in 2021 or later. The plans will require changes to how government, employers and individuals approach skills issues. "The paper suggests new controls on migration next decade. Over the last ten years, government has cut spending on further education by 30% while employers have got by without enough attention to training. The government’s immigration plans suggest there needs to be a major change of direction." On the specific points in the white paper We note the plans to review the Skills Charge but we have seen no evidence that the money collected so far (estimated to be £100 million a year) has been transferred to DFE to spend on skills. We have concerns that a salary threshold will make it harder to recruit staff for the post 16 teaching roles that the UK will need in the 2020s to educate rising numbers of young adults and retrain older workers. We welcome the plan to reintroduce an easier route to work visas for those studying in universities at Bachelor degree level but we call on the Home Office to extend these rules to those taking higher level qualifications (at Level 4 and 5) in colleges. We will also continue to press the Home Office to allow international students at government regulated colleges to work part-time. We will welcome continued engagement with Government to ensure that there is appropriate planning for the end of freedom of movement and the number of EU students who choose to study in the UK.