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Shortly before last week’s broadcast I received a press release from the British Cleaning Council expressing similar concerns as I have over recent months, regarding the potential damage Britain will face if we prevent overseas workers from taking up low-paid jobs such as cleaning, which we can’t seem to fill locally.
The BCC drew attention to research it published last year, showing that migrants – earning an average of £8.42/hour - make up 19% of the cleaning workforce. The research also predicted that 93,000 new cleaning jobs would be created by 2024. “Well you can’t get the staff these days” isn’t going to cut it if people become ill or suffer injury because of poor cleaning…
This isn’t the only industry to be worried. In my role writing for the kitchen, bathroom & bedroom industry, I received a statement from Damian Walters, CEO of The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation. Damien believes the policy has the potential for “adding enormous pressure to the industry” leading to "catastrophic consequences" and he’s urging Government to work with Trade Associations to better understand the "grass-root challenges" faced. He’s written to The Prime Minister expressing his concerns.
In his letter, Damian states that whilst the "majority of tradespeople in the UK are highly skilled" they may not themselves meet criteria set around formal qualifications, indicating that those overseas may not either. He says that there is not enough labour to deliver against the demand of both targets and need. This applies to the cleaning industry too, doesn’t it? And cleaners aren’t going to be paid the minimum set out by Government either, to earn their place here, are they?
Damian believes we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure immigration policy is launched from a solid, informed platform, and that Trade Associations can play an integral role in supporting the Government to achieve a balanced policy which accepts that hardworking people from across the globe don’t necessarily arrive with paper qualification, but perhaps do possess the skills required to fulfil the need.
I recall how difficult it used to be to recruit and retain good cleaners and the impact this had on hygiene and cleanliness everywhere. I do hope we can avoid a similar scenario in the future and that those in the industry whose businesses rely on foreign labour will do all they can to let the PM know that the whole thing needs a rethink – and fast.
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27th February 2020