You may well have seen the recent news about a leaked document that reportedly said the government were considering post-Brexit curbs on ‘low-skilled’ workers. You may also have seen the response from many industries such as construction, logistics, food manufacturing, leisure and many others about how potentially damaging a lack of people to fill these roles would be.
This is not an article about that or the many other employment issues surrounding Brexit. It is about something that really bothers us in the way that term ‘low-skilled’ is used. There seems to be a certain approach being taken that being classed as a worker in a low-skilled environment is some sort of badge of low importance.
As far as we are concerned here at 24-7 Staffing, that is simply not the case. Let me tell you a little story about why.
A few years ago, a friend of mine went to a rather swanky dinner where a very well-known celebrity was the guest of honour. During the event they found themselves standing next to the dividing curtain between the service and the banquet area when they heard a huge burst of laughter from the other side. Curious, they peeked behind the curtain and saw the celebrity guest shaking hands, and joking with the various ‘low-skilled’ workers. Later my friend mentioned to the celebrities’ publicist how nice it was that her famous actor client had taken the time to meet with the staff as well as the invited guests. “Oh, he insisted on it” was the response, “He says the person doing the washing up is doing the real job of work when all he is doing is turning up and being famous for people.”
And there, in that one kind gesture, is the crux of the issue we have here at 24-7 when the term ‘low-skilled’ is used to suggest a less important role in the economy or the structure of our society. The work of this group of employees may not be high profile, but it is no less vital than any other job. We talk about a skills gap regularly but we rarely talk about the fact that the specific skills industries rely on the workforce around them to make them valuable.
If you take a moment to consider that the unemployment rate is very low, meaning a shallower pool of candidates, and the fact that in some industries 33% of labour is provided by EU nationals in unskilled roles, you begin to realise just how large the low-skilled workforce is in the UK. Putting aside the potential issue that could be caused by restrictions on people coming to the UK to fill those roles you cannot help but realise that unskilled people run our industries. By which we mean they literally run the machines, move the goods, feed the nation, clean the hotels, care for our ageing population and thousands of other vital roles.
Low skilled is not the same thing as low importance for us, and a smaller salary is not a marker of less value. We see every candidate and every role as important to the success of our businesses locally, nationally and internationally. Our aim is to have a selection of the best roles for our candidates and a service that works for you regardless of the apparent level of your skills.
Bearing in mind the importance of the so-called ‘unskilled’ worker to the economy, perhaps it is time we gave them the credit they deserve and the respect they earn every day through hard work.
We're pleased to see the REC standing up for our low skilled workers and stand with them in the plight for these valuable workers across the UK.