Some Britons don't want to "get out of the house and work the necessary hours" after the Covid pandemic, ex-Tory leader Lord Hague said on Tuesday.
The peer also believes that some people in the UK are not working because they are obese.
He was asked why jobs were not being filled by workers already in the UK, given that there are around a million vacancies, with hospitality chiefs stressing that they are struggling to recruit staff after the Covid pandemic and the furlough scheme.
Asked about how the domestic workforce could be energised, Lord Hague told Times Radio: “Public health is a large part of this...you have heard me go on and on in the past about obesity and things like that which do ultimately affect the productivity of the workforce, the ability of people to go to work...and be relatively free of illnesses.
“Then also there does seem to have been a changed attitude to work after Covid.”
He highlighted the view that the “generosity of furlough...seems to have affected some people’s attitude to work and how many hours that they want to work”.
He added: “We seem to have a slightly less motivated workforce in terms of getting out of the house and working the necessary hours than we had pre-2020.
“It is really important to put that right otherwise there will be huge migration needed permanently for the future.”
Lord Hague backed the Government’s clampdown on immigration as “perfectly sensible” measures.
Hiking the skilled worker earnings threshold by a third to £38,700, in line with the median full-time wage.
Scrapping “cut-price” labour by stopping shortage occupations being able to pay 20 per cent less than the going rate and reforming the shortage occupation list.
Ensuring the Migration Advisory Committee reviews the graduate immigration route to prevent abuse.
Professor Brian Bell, chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, said some industries could struggle with recruitment because of the Government’s new visa rules.
He said: “It looks like most of the sort of jobs in the £20,000 to £30,000 brackets, most of them won’t be eligible because even if they get a discount it won’t be enough to let them recruit.
“I think we’re going to see quite a lot of what you might describe as middle-skilled jobs, where there is a reasonable amount of training required but not graduate level jobs, there are the ones that are going to struggle.
“So, your butchers, your carpenters, your welders, those kind of jobs.”
While the changes would not affect the NHS, he believes it is likely there will be fewer social care workers coming from overseas.
“The big puzzle that I’m left with is what the Government’s long-term strategy for social care,” he added.
While the changes may deal with immigration, he said ministers needed to do more on “pay and terms and conditions” in social care otherwise they would not tackle the “fundamental problems” in this sector.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: “We don’t think asking care workers not to bring dependents to the UK will have a material impact.
“What we think will happen is it will lead to a reduction of about 20 per cent in the number of foreign care workers coming into the UK.
“We hope those places can be filled by British workers and the Department for Health has a plan to do that, a ten-year workforce plan for social care backed by £2 billion of investment .”
However, he refused to commit to publishing the Home Office’s own impact assessment on changes announced on Monday.