The UK's plans to increase immigration could harm small businesses that cannot find a local workforce and will soon face severe restrictions on hiring from the European Union.
Almost 40% of businesses said they had trouble hiring the right people in the past year, and more than a third of businesses say that, according to the Federation of Small Businesses, UK citizens are unwilling to do their jobs.
The survey highlights the economic challenge Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government faces when trying to gain better control over its borders after Brexit. The nation has long relied on imported workers for jobs such as construction, agriculture, and social welfare, and many companies are ill-prepared for change.
"Companies want to train their workforce, improve productivity and push the next generation, but they need support to do that," said Mike Cherry, chairman of the FSB. "It is important that we get this new system right, especially when the time frames are so tight."
As the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year, the UK government is proposing to use a scorecard system to favor skilled workers who come to the country. Among the EU citizens currently living in the UK, 70% would not make the cut under the new rules.
While the FSB said a point-based system could work, it also has concerns. Locals may not be able to fill in, hiring foreigners can be too expensive, and there will be a greater administrative burden for companies that have never submitted immigration documents before.
Almost half of the companies surveyed stated that they could not afford the fees charged for the employment of EU employees. This fee, currently charged to non-EU workers, can exceed £ 3,000 ($ 4,000).
The changes leave little time to adapt to companies that have long relied on the free movement of people from the EU.
Small businesses should receive funding for training and new technologies, Cherry said. This could prove to be the key to eliminating the lack of efficiency in the economy.
In 2018, UK hourly growth was almost 20% below its pre-crisis trend. Economists say the increasing use of artificial intelligence will help, but it doesn't have a big impact yet.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)