Employers ‘desperate’ as pool of EU workers dries up

Concerns grow over the availability of suitable candidates as numbers of workers arriving from the EU continues to decrease amid Brexit fears, according to a survey by Manpower.

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A shortage of workers arriving from the European Union amid Brexit fears has left UK employers in a state of “desperation” over the prospects of hiring the staff and skills they need, according to a survey published by recruitment firm Manpower.

UK industries previously reliant on immigration

The survey of 2,102 employers found confidence about hiring prospects in the coming months was at its highest level in more than a year, but that this optimism masked real concerns over the availability of suitable candidates to fill vacancies.James Hick, managing director of ManpowerGroup Solutions, said, “This surprise jump in confidence could actually be a mirage. “Take the best-performing sector, hospitality, which is up seven points to +16 per cent – a huge 14 point rise since this time last year. On the surface, this might look like a sector that is firing on all cylinders, but this is at odds with the almost daily diet of news about struggles in the sector.“Our view on the data is that it shows how desperate employers are to fill vacancies in an industry that is heavily dependent on immigration, with up to 24 per cent of all staff coming from the EU. “Given that the sector employs around three million people, losing that proportion of the workforce would leave a shortfall of three-quarters of a million people. “In recent weeks we’ve seen more reports that the number of EU workers arriving in the UK is falling – particularly those from eastern Europe – and employers are racing to make up the shortfall.“Theresa May has ignored warnings from businesses that her plan to cut immigration to the tens of thousands will be detrimental to the British economy as she ploughs ahead with a Brexit that will see the UK exit the single market, cutting off a stream of workers.”
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Tackling the skills shortage in the UK

Manpower says the government must commit itself to “long-term policies around skills which will give UK businesses the clarity they need to invest for the future”.One sector that bucked the trend on hiring expectations was construction, where confidence collapsed by six points to just plus one per cent.“The construction sector has experienced a huge drop in hiring confidence this quarter,” said Mr Hick. “This chimes with recent PMI data showing a slowdown in all activity, even house-building, which saw its worst performance since July 2016.“Despite political commitments around housing, the data raises questions around the future of policies such as Help to Buy. This uncertainty is causing developers to sit on their hands – a stance that may have been exacerbated by the recent house price falls in London.”
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