UK firms suffering 'supply shock' as EU migration falls

British firms are suffering a "supply shock" in the skills they need because of an abrupt fall in the number of EU27 nationals coming to the UK to work, according to a recent report.

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The latest Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Adecco Group, says the drop in the number of EU arrivals "coincides with a drop in the quantity and suitability of job applicants being reported by employers".Based on a survey of 2,001 employers, the report showed that while the short-term outlook for employment remained strong, labour and skills shortages were starting to bite, with demand exceeding supply.Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market analyst at the CIPD, said, “The most recent official data shows that there has been a significant slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to work in the UK over the past year."This is feeding into increasing recruitment and retention challenges, particularly for employers in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles and which are particularly vulnerable to the prospect of future changes to immigration policy for EU migrants."With skills and labour shortages set to worsen further against the backdrop of rising talk of a ‘no deal’ outcome with the EU, the need for the government to issue consistent, categorical assurances about the status of current and future EU citizens, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, is more important now than ever.”Alex Fleming, president of staffing and solutions at Adecco Group UK and Ireland, added, “With Brexit looming we’re seeing a talent shortage and a more competitive marketplace. In this candidate-short landscape the pressure is on employers to not only offer an attractive salary, but also additional benefits."In today’s environment employment benefits such as healthcare, a strong pension, flexible working and a collaborative and empowering work culture give employers a strong competitive advantage in attracting the best talent."Retention also remains key; it is imperative that employers develop and promote their staff so they don’t fall short and feel the impact of the dwindling growth of the UK’s talent pool. The recent falling net migration ONS figures for EU nationals arriving in the UK with no job offer is just another clear indication that it is time for employers to recognise their shortcomings in attracting new staff, and in retaining their current talent.”The report said the number of EU-born workers in the UK increased by 7,000 between the first quarter of 2017 and Q1 this year, compared to 148,000 between 2016-17. It said the number of applications for each low-skilled vacancy had fallen from 25 to 20 in the past few years, and from 19 to 10 for medium-skill posts.A government spokesman said, "EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and we have been clear from the beginning of this process that we want these citizens and their families in the UK to be able to stay."After we leave the EU, the UK will continue to be the open country it has always been. We will have in place an immigration system that delivers control over who comes to the UK, but that welcomes the brightest and best who want to work hard and contribute."
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