Open and controlled: access to skills post-Brexit

Open and controlled: access to skills post-Brexit

Access to talent from overseas is critical to delivering prosperity


Changes to immigration rules after Brexit will be a significant shift for employers. The status quo cannot continue. A fresh approach to immigration will help deliver national goals that benefit everyone. From building homes to delivering affordable healthcare - overseas workers are vital.


The change we're calling for


We’re calling for a new approach to immigration: one that is open to support our economy, but with new controls to build public trust and confidence. Politicians must start to have an honest and transparent conversation about immigration - and the government must take immediate action.

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    Deliver a post-Brexit immigration system that both meets the economy’s needs and restores public confidence

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    Scrap the net migration target to reduce levels to ‘tens of thousands’

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    Put migration on the table in trade agreements around the world


Why it's needed


From waiters supporting Cornwall’s hospitality industry, to advertisers sharing global perspectives in London, to welders in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen – international workers from all skill levels underpin businesses right across the UK.

Not only do workers from abroad help to fill skills gaps and labour shortages, they bring fresh ideas, drive innovation and make the UK an attractive destination for global investment.

However, the current government’s approach to immigration risks all this. Taking another look at immigration policy is the perfect opportunity for a fresh approach. Government must listen to business to develop a system that works for both the economy and the public.

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"People earning less than £30,000 make a hugely valuable contribution to our economy and society, from lab technicians to people in the food industry. So our offer to government is to work with us. We understand the challenge of building public trust, but we think there are much better answers."

Carolyn Fairbairn, Director-General, CBI

The importance of immigration

Making British business better

People from all over the world help to staff vital industries, boost productivity and add to our diversity of thought. There is significant evidence to support their influence on our workforce and economy.

  • seasonal workers a year are needed to plant, pick and pack over 9 million tonnes of fruit, vegetable and flower crops in Britain

  • EU nationals make up 11% of the manufacturing workforce on average

  • An 80% fall in long-term workers from the EU/EEA would reduce GDP per capita and cost £4 billion by 2025.

The case for open and controlled

Immigration isn’t just about quarterly net migration statistics. It is about people. People who are having a positive impact for firms of all sizes, across sectors, right around the UK. Find out about how businesses in your region are concerned about the government’s proposals for a new system after Brexit.


Our progress and impact


The CBI campaigns tirelessly on behalf of our members so that business can access the labour and skills from overseas they need to thrive. Learn more about the work we do and the impact we are making on immigration policy.

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Support the change

  1. Are you a business leader?


    Join the CBI

    Our members are our mandate, and the reason we're the most influential business organisation in the UK.

    Join the voice of business, and help us campaign to ensure the UK retains an open and controlled boarder after exiting the European Union.

    Become a member
  2. Are you a CBI member?


    Have your say

    Are you struggling to fill vacancies at your business? Looking to bring in new international talent?

    We're look for members to shape our policy position. Share your story and help drive change.

    Get involved
  3. Are you a policymaker?


    Make a difference

    This campaign is led by the CBI's People & Skills team.

    Contact John Cope, Head of Education and Skills to find out about the change UK business urgently needs and how you can support it.

    Contact us