Post-Brexit visas could lead to the oil industry losing workers to other countries, an Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) manager has told MPs.
OGUK skills and employment issues manager Alix Thom responded to questions about the impact of leaving the EU on the industry’s workforce at Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee.
Ms Thom said visas had caused problems in the past and she believed they would do so again, particularly as there is still a science and engineering skills shortage in the UK, meaning companies will continue to need to import workers.
“We’re clearly concerned for the future,” she said. “We regard the Tier Two visa process as pretty cumbersome and our members have real concerns if that is to be trialled in future.
“Previously, we were actually losing candidates because of the time it took to process a visa – people were getting definite offers elsewhere where they didn’t have to wait on the uncertainty of a visa.
“When business begins to ramp up again we really will need access to labour outside the UK as there is no short term fix [to the UK skills shortage].
“We’re in the doldrums a bit at the moment but we continue to compete globally for investment and anything that makes it more difficult to do business here will have an impact on that.”
The committee also took evidence from academics on the impact Brexit was having on research and university teaching.
Aberdeen South MP Ross Thomson has called on immigration minister Caroline Nokes to include Aberdeen universities in visa trials being conducted elsewhere in the UK.
Robert Gordon University Principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski told the Press and Journal his university is already suffering the effects of Brexit.
“We have had to work twice as hard to get the numbers of international students and staff as before,” he said.
“Brexit is not just damaging EU migration but also international migration – for example, people from China are saying Britain is turning away from the global community and becoming unwelcoming.
“The message going out needs to be balanced and corrected because Scotland needs to be emphatic in saying people from other countries are welcome here.”