Over the past 15 years, free movement has been the main legal channel through which migrant workers have come to the UK to work low-skilled jobs. In 2017, an estimated 500,000 people born in EU countries were employed in low-wage jobs such as cleaning, waiting tables, warehousing and food processing. Under current government plans, free movement will come to an end in 2021 and so this route will no longer exist, raising the question what—if anything—will replace it.
There is no consensus on whether dedicated labour migration routes into low-skilled jobs are necessary at all, at least outside of the agricultural sector which relies overwhelmingly on seasonal workers from EU countries.
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