Sadiq Khan calls for Government to act over business talent fears

30 November 2016

Sadiq Khan will today declare that he will have no choice but to look at a ‘London-specific solution’ if the Government refuses to act over employers' fears that business will lose access to skilled EU workers after Brexit negotiations.


The Mayor will announce plans for a summit with business leaders and other experts in the new year to push forward with plans to put pressure on ministers and develop a new system to ensure businesses can retain access to the skills they need.


He will use a keynote speech at the Institute of Directors to warn that ministers appear not to be 'listening' to business concerns.


If this continues, and the Government plans do not adopt a position that works for businesses in the capital, he will have 'no choice but to look at a London-specific solution,' he will warn.


London has one of the most international workforces in the world, with 616,000 people born elsewhere in Europe working in London, representing 12.5 per cent of the entire workforce.


 These workers are vital to the capital’s economy, with 88,000 employed in the construction industry, 49,000 in financial and insurance activities and 58,000 in professional, scientific and technical activities. Many of those working in these industries are employed in senior roles.


The Mayor will today say that access to a skilled workforce 'is absolutely essential to protecting jobs, growth and tax revenues across Britain over the decade ahead.'


Sadiq’s preferred option is for the Government to adopt a negotiating position and new system that satisfies businesses' demands.  The Mayor will today pledge to keep pushing the Government on this in his monthly meetings with David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.


The summit follows reports from the London Chamber of Commerce and City of London Corporation that suggested a London work permit could help to combat the effect of Brexit in London. 


Such a scheme would allow employers in London to be able to sponsor skilled foreign workers after Britain leaves the EU. This would help to ensure London can recruit the brightest and the best from around the world.


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will say:


“London’s businesses must retain access to the skilled workforce they need in order to grow – it’s absolutely essential to protecting jobs, growth and tax revenues across Britain over the next decade.


“I will keep pushing the Government to recognise this vital need in their negotiating position – but it doesn’t look like they are listening.


“If the Government ignores the needs of business and pushes ahead with a new system that cuts off access to skilled workers then we will have no choice but to look at a London-specific solution.


“We need to redouble our efforts to train up today’s young Londoners for the jobs of tomorrow. That is why I have pushed for devolution of skills provision in London so we can better align skills training with the roles that our companies need.


 “The City of London Corporation and London Chambers of Commerce have already done some crucial early thinking about options – but we need to go further and faster to make the case to the Government and develop a new system.


“I will bring together industry leaders, business representatives and experts at City Hall in the New Year to take this vital work forward.”