New laws to ensure the UK has the skills it needs post-pandemic

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Houses of Parliament

New laws to allow skilled professionals from around the world to have their qualifications recognised in the UK have been introduced to Parliament.

By being able to recognise qualifications from professionals around the world, the Professional Qualifications Bill will help to ensure the UK can address where the demand for skills is not currently being met.

Much of the UK’s current framework for recognising professional qualifications derives from EU law. Currently, regulators must have routes to recognising professional qualifications from the European Economic Area (the EU, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland.

Workers with professional qualifications from outside these areas can face hurdles to getting their qualifications recognised in the UK. This can include higher application fees or, in some cases, no means to recognition at all.

Now the UK has taken back control of its laws from the EU, the government is introducing new legislation so skilled professionals can have their qualifications recognised in the UK where they meet UK standards. Regulators will have the autonomy to assess qualifications, and to pursue arrangements with counterparts in other countries in the interests of their professions.

The Bill gives devolved administrations powers to equip their regulators with the ability to enter into arrangements with international partners. This will help all parts of the UK to take advantage of the UK’s global trading status.

The new laws will help meet the demands of individual professions in different parts of the UK by identifying professions that will benefit from access to global talent. Identifying where there is demand for skills from overseas will be for the UK government and devolved administrations to decide and legislate for.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “Having left the European Union, this vital piece of legislation will ensure skilled professionals from around the world are able to have their qualifications recognised in the UK, allowing us to attract the brightest and best as we build back better.

“These laws will not only bolster the UK’s standing as a great place to work and trade, but will strengthen our Union by creating a clearer framework for recognising professional qualifications that meets the skills needs of each part of the UK.”

Industry reaction

Helen Brand OBE, chief executive of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), said: “This Bill will be very helpful in facilitating recognition of professional qualifications and trade in professional services. This is therefore a much welcome development as a catalyst to future Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), particularly in relation to mobility and trade in services, issues that matter a great deal to our members.”

Hugh Simpson, Chief Executive and Registrar for the Architects Registration Board, said: “The Professional Qualifications Bill is a really important step following the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK is a global leader in architecture and for ARB to have the power to form mutual recognition agreements with international regulators will enable us to assure the public that all registered architects are suitably qualified. It will also provide opportunities for UK architects to have their qualifications recognised internationally and to enable the global spread of skills, knowledge and innovation.”