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Brexit migration measures threaten UK clinical research

Calls for less restrictive working visa requirements

brexit

The UK’s existing migration system is restricting the country’s ability to compete for highly skilled workers in clinical research - and Brexit could make things much worse.

That's the message from a white paper published by clinical research organisation Richmond Pharmacology.

Issued today, the white paper warns that if the UK cannot attract the top 5% of global scientific talent, in which there is fierce competition for, then both the life sciences industry and the UK economy will suffer.

It says: “The UK is recognised as a global leader in life sciences and clinical research. Patients, the NHS, our economy and our academic institutions all benefit from this highly coveted position.

“[However], clinical research skills are in drastically short supply according to industry research. The global talent pool is thin, meaning countries aggressively compete for highly skilled workers.

“The UK’s existing migration system restricts our ability to compete and as we prepare to leave the EU, we risk damaging this position even more.”

The paper, which outlines existing barriers for talent attraction, claims that visa requirements are far too strict.

Currently, the system rejects any Tier 2 application (intended for those outside of the European Economic Area and Switzerland) if the applicant’s offer of employment is not on the UK Shortage of Occupation list.

The applicant must also have a salary offer of at least £50,000, a condition that prevents CROs from offering junior-level roles to those with PhD’s, the company writes.

“The Home Office’s shortage occupation list and the annual limit of just 20,700 for all tier 2 visas seriously restricts the number of scientists entering the country,” it says.

Additionally, the paper also targets the effect bureaucracy, highlighting that qualified individuals can have their applications denied without explanation, placing a heavy financial and administrative burden on those seeking to work in the UK.

The company also says the government must strike a balance between limiting migration levels and ensuring that the UK has the skills to deliver the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy, which was published back in August.

Just last month the Migration Advisory Committee published a report advising an abolishment on the cap for Tier 2 migrants and that there should be no preference for EU citizens over non-EEA citizens.

The company agrees with this proposal, and also suggests a sector-wide approach in attracting and training scientists.

Meanwhile, the UK government is seeking to secure close regulatory alignment with the European Medicines Agency after it leaves the EU, another factor that could cause difficulties when attracting talent.

Article by
Gemma Jones

9th October 2018

From: Regulatory, Healthcare

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