The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) has co-ordinated a joint campaign with other industry trade bodies to highlight to government, in the context of the upcoming Shortage Occupation List (SOL) review, the critical labour shortages being suffered by the warehousing and logistics sector.
UKWA, supported by Logistics UK, BIFA, Chemical Business Association, Cold Chain Federation and RTITB, has submitted a letter to Minister for Immigration, The Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, stating that despite ‘working tirelessly to recruit and train a homegrown workforce’, a short to medium-term labour boost is desperately needed to support one of the fastest growing industries in the UK’s economy as it struggles to manage growing consumer demand.
The rise of ecommerce during the COVID lockdown and the departure of immigrant logistics workers after Brexit have contributed to significantly increased pressures on the industry. The letter to the government references the substantial drop in numbers of forklift truck drivers, despite uplift in demand for warehousing and logistics facilities, alongside the chronic shortfall in HGV drivers.
UKWA CEO Clare Bottle says, “It is important that the industry speaks with one voice on this vital issue. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) annual review of 2021 concurs with our shared view that temporary measures such as short term visas are not a suitable solution to skills shortages, so we have requested a meeting with the Minister to discuss how we can work collectively to ensure logistics businesses are able to meet demand for services in the short to medium-term, while assuring the government of our absolute commitment to a longer term solution that is not reliant on migration.”
The Shortage Occupation List is set out in the Appendix Shortage Occupation List of the UK Immigration Rules. It details the roles that the UK government considers to be in short supply within the country’s resident labour market, with such roles afforded more relaxed eligibility criteria for sponsored work visa applications.
In August 2022, the MAC, which typically recommends to government which occupations should be included, was asked to review the SOL for sponsoring skilled workers. It is anticipated that the committee will report back by the end of March 2023, with a view to the implementation of any change in the autumn of the same year.