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EU-UK youth mobility scheme may help fill post-Brexit employment gap

Recently published proposals on a youth mobility scheme between the EU and the UK may be a positive step to help struggling sectors which have seen a significant reduction in available workers since Brexit, an expert has said.

The European Commission outlined plans to make progress with the scheme that would allow young people, usually between 18 and 30 years old, to come to the UK for a limited time without needing a visa sponsorship. The suggested time frame could be up to four years, potentially simplifying immigration for EU students, interns and workers as well as extending opportunities for UK nationals looking to study or work across the EU.

Corporate immigration expert at Pinsent Masons, Shara Pledger, said: “This could be massive for sectors such as retail and hospitality that cannot satisfy requirements to sponsor workers under the main employment routes, and generally see a high staff turnover.”

Brexit has reduced the mobility of people to and from the UK and EU, with the Commission highlighting the impact of this on young people – for example, in terms limiting cultural experiences as well as educational, research and training benefits. The new scheme seeks to address the main barriers that post-Brexit mobility changes have created for young people.

A youth mobility scheme would allow for recruitment of migrant workers from the EU in roles in shops, restaurants and hotels, “potentially filling the big gaps left post-Brexit”, Pledger added.

The Commission has set out conditions that would have to be met for a worker to be eligible for the scheme. These include around age, maximum duration of stay as well as other conditions for eligibility and rules for verifying compliance. These conditions and rules are yet to be fully outlined but will likely include permission under the scheme to allow for studying or training.

Permission is now required from the European Council for the Commission to open negotiations with the UK.

The Commission’s proposals on the EU-UK agreement on youth mobility sets precedent for future discussion too. For instance, supporting discussion on the possible association of the UK to Erasmus+, the student exchange, education and training programme, according to the Commission.

The UK already has similar schemes with countries including Australia, South Korea and Uruguay, but nothing currently aimed at young people in the EU.

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