Northern Ireland news

'Don't draw up the drawbridge on skilled migrant workers' Invest NI boss warns

Invest NI head Alastair Hamilton has issued a warning on the ability of skilled migrant workers to enter NI post-Brexit.
Paul Ainsworth

The North must retain access to skilled migrant workers after Brexit, the Chief Executive of Invest NI has warned.

Alastair Hamilton said his organisation has been "very vocal" on the subject of migrants entering Northern Ireland to work, he told the BBC's Inside Business programme.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said low-skilled migration to the UK will fall after Brexit when the EU's freedom of movement rules no longer apply, and has insisted EU residents will face no preferential treatment when applying to come to the UK, compared to those arriving from other countries. However, Ms May has suggested a future trade deal with the EU could include a new "mobility" agreement.

Mr Hamilton said Invest NI has been consistent in highlighting the issue of skilled migrant workers and the need of certain sectors here.

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"That's an area that we have been very vocal, in terms of our input into the decision-makers around the Brexit policy side," he said.

"Around making sure that there are visa regimes that will allow both high skilled, but also people in some of those manufacturing areas to still be able to come into the country post-Brexit, where there is a job for them and where we have a need for their skills.

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"We need to be careful that we don't draw up the drawbridge on all of that, in an immigration debate, where we really do need those skills. We have benefited from a visa scheme for those people living outside of the EU for many years, we just need to translate that into a future world."

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