With the summer season in full swing, many travellers will have noticed travel disruption affecting their holiday plans. From stories of flight cancellations to airport delays, the common factor largely boils down to staff shortages. The latest industry boss to call for government action is Michael O’Leary, the Chief Executive of Ryanair. Mr O’Leary has called for more government flexibility in the UK visa system to enable his company, and others, to have easier access to EU workers.
Since the end of free movement, EU nationals wishing to work in the UK need to apply for a work visa. One route includes the skilled worker visa route which allows UK employers to sponsor visas for skilled workers; a route that is open to EU nationals. Cabin crew positions are eligible for sponsorship under the skilled worker route, provided the employer agrees to pay staff at, or above, the minimum salary threshold for sponsorship. This level of pay is set at £25,600 per annum, although there are some instances where a lower salary of £20,480 may be appropriate. However other in-demand positions, such as ground staff and baggage handlers, are not deemed sufficiently skilled to warrant visa sponsorship. The domestic workforce would therefore need to fill these roles but with the current low rate of unemployment and high number of job vacancies, there are just not enough people looking for work to fill the vacancies.
The travel industry is the latest in a long line of industries calling for the government to do more to ease the current employment crisis but they have been slow to react. Various industry leaders have argued that the government’s continued inaction to address the issue is having a negative impact on the economy, forcing companies to reduce their output. With a possible recession looming, it may be a question of how long the government can afford to do nothing.