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New UK immigration laws could slow garment sector growth

By Huw Hughes

24 Feb 2020

Fashion

Proposed changes from the UK government to entry requirements for both EU and non-EU citizens entering the country could slow the growth of its garment sector, Globadata has warned.

From January 2021, proposed post-Brexit immigration rules would mean low-skilled workers from the EU would be denied UK visas.

The new point-based system is looking to attract the "brightest and the best" talent from around the world, The UK Home Office has said, but the move poses problems for the UK’s garment sector which relies heavily on low-skilled workers.

Hannah Abdulla, apparel correspondent at GlobalData, said in a statement: “The Home Office has already confirmed it estimates 70 perent of the existing EU workforce would not meet the requirements of the skilled worker routes. That could prove problematic for the UK textile manufacturing sector, particularly as it relies so heavily on eastern European workers.

“With the UK looking to grow its manufacturing capability, the latest move could result in it taking a step backwards.

“One of the worries is the demand for a formal qualification. There are many highly-skilled workers in the sector, such as machinists, but they don't necessarily have the formal qualifications to prove that. And with less than a year before the new rules come into play, UK factories are going to struggle to train up replacements in time. Ultimately, the new rules will limit the sector's growth.”

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