Foreign skills shortage most worrying manufacturers

The primary concern over Brexit among UK manufacturers is whether or not they will still be able to hire the foreign skills they badly need, according to a new survey.

Foreign skills shortage most worrying manufacturers.
Research by business advisory consultants Crowe and the Confederation of British Metalforming found that 81 per cent of respondents to a recent survey had difficulty recruiting skilled employees locally, with 85 per cent expressing support for employing foreign nationals.Johnathan Dudley, partner and head of manufacturing at Crowe, says, “While the skills shortage has impacted the sector over the last few years, it is clear that this has now progressed to become a major threat to growth.“Limitations, both perceived and real, largely driven by the possibility of more restrictive movement post-Brexit, on the one hand, will be countered by wider access to non-EU nationals, but this is subject, of course, to the detailed implementation of proposed point-based (immigration) system.”The survey also found concern among manufacturers over future tariffs and global economic conditions. However, despite continuing uncertainty over the impact of Brexit, there was a cautious mood of optimism for economic growth prospects this year. Three out of five of the companies surveyed said they expected turnover to grow in the coming year.

A quarter of creative workers set to leave the UK 

Meanwhile, research by CV-writing firm TopCV found that 15 per cent of the workers it surveyed were planning to leave the UK after Brexit, with the hardest-hit sectors expected to be marketing, media and design (25 per cent of staff); science and education (21 per cent); and engineering and construction (18 per cent).Amanda Augustine, careers adviser at TopCV, says, “Our research reveals incredibly dire implications for Britain’s creative industries. We have some of the brightest minds and most creative agencies in the UK, so for a quarter of that talent to leave would be shocking.“Hiring and retaining the right staff, even in the steadiest of times, can be tough. Employers will have to identify creative ways to incentivise their employees to remain in the UK – and quickly.”
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Employers must support EU workers

Gillian McKearney, head of UK immigration at law firm Fieldfisher, said there was an opportunity for employers to drive recruitment from overseas while the transition period remained in place until the end of this year.However, she said firms needed to support employees who arrived in the UK before the end of 2020 with their applications for Settled Status and Pre-Settled Status if they wanted to remain in the UK from 2021.“Brexit is now upon us and heralds a new era for immigration. Over the next few months during this transition period, what will be important for employers, especially those who employ large numbers of EU nationals, is to ensure that they have a process in place to manage the right to work status of their EU national employees,” she told Personnel Today.Ms McKearney pointed out that up to a million EU nationals working in the UK had yet to apply under the Settlement Scheme. “This is something to take into consideration and business management should take on the responsibility of encouraging and supporting their EU employees to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme and tracking those who not wish to,” she added.

The importance of Settled Status 

A leading recruitment group is also urging EU nationals to apply for Settled Status as part of the EU Settlement Scheme, which it says is easy and almost certain to succeed.Berry Recruitment Group (BRG), which works from almost 40 locations across the UK, emphasises that by the end of 2020 existing residence documents for EU citizens could be out of date.
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Spencer Berry, BRG’s business development director, says, “I have witnessed this process because my wife Lena is a Swedish national and she applied and gained settled status very quickly. Foreign workers are crucial for our whole economy and EU workers make up about seven per cent of the UK workforce.“The scheme is for those who have been living in the UK for five years with continuous residency, those who move to the UK before the end of this year and for family members of EU citizens living in the UK. The vast majority of those who apply are successful and with Brexit now certain there is no reason to delay.”Research by The AIRE Centre, a legal charity specialising in European law, said the success rate of applications for settled status was more than 99.9 per cent.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted

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