Skilled staff behind fall in EU workers in UK

UK firms are advised to prepare for post-Brexit staffing issues, after a recorded net fall in skilled EU workers. The ONS, Bank of England, and the Resolution Foundation weigh in on the situation.

Skilled Staff from EU leaving UK article image
The net fall of 50,000 European Union nationals working in the UK, as recorded in the latest government figures, was mainly attributable to an exodus of high-skilled staff, according to a think-tank's analysis.

British firms advised to start planning now for post-Brexit staffing

Blaming the departures on the uncertainties caused by the referendum vote last June to leave the EU, the Resolution Foundation said British firms should start planning now for a possible loss of skilled foreign workers when Brexit becomes a reality.The report cites the latest figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which showed a 50,000 fall in the 2.3 million EU nationals living in the UK in the final quarter of 2016.According to the ONS, there was a decline of 30,000 in the number of workers from Western European nations and a decrease of 45,000 from East Europe, partially offset by an increase of 25,000 in workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

UK loses large numbers of highly-skilled EU workers, not the low-skilled workers anticipated

The think-tank analysis found that, while there were falls in numbers across all sectors, the exodus was not led by low-skilled workers but, rather, that the biggest falls occurred among those working in banking, the public sector and construction, in addition to a large decrease in the number of graduates.
Related news:
Stephen Clarke, economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Lower migration was one of the key issues during the EU referendum campaign, and it seems the vote has already had an effect, with the number of EU-born workers falling by 50,000 during the final three months of last year, even without actual policy change."While it's too early to draw any firm conclusions about post-referendum migration levels, the initial reduction looks to have been driven by graduates, with some of the fastest falls being in finance and the public sector."This trend highlights that labour market adjustment to lower migration levels may not just be in the lower paid sectors that have dominated much of the debate."With the prime minister making control of migration a key priority for Brexit, firms should plan for the likelihood that the availability of migrant labour in Britain falls once the UK leaves the EU."That might mean a combination of investing in machinery, or rethinking their recruitment and training policies, all of which takes time, so employers need to start preparing now."

Bank of England regional agents suggest EU workers are leaving the UK due to fall in the value of sterling

Earlier this week, the latest report from the Bank of England's network of regional agents suggested said there was "little evidence" yet of EU migrants leaving due to Brexit, although it said some had left because the fall in the value of sterling since the referendum vote had reduced the value of their repatriated earnings.The agents also reported that firms were encountering difficulties recruiting new EU workers "due to a shrinking pool of candidates".For related news and features, visit our Brexit section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

Related Articles