Survey shows reliance of UK companies on EU migrants

A new study has highlighted the "significant" reliance of many UK businesses on workers from other European Union nations.

migrant workers in catering industry
Manufacturing, accommodation services and the catering sector were particularly reliant on migrant, according to the study by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) and Adecco. Its publication coincided with reports showing pre-referendum nerves had resulted in the first production fall in manufacturing in three years and warnings of "turbulence" in the employment market over fears of a Brexit.The SMF/Adecco survey found that EU employees were generally educated to a higher level than UK-born workers, with only 85 per cent of the former staying in education beyond the age of 17 compared to only 56 per cent of native Britons.Of the 1.6 million EU workers in the UK, five per cent occupied positions such as managers, directors and professionals, although many also worked in jobs requiring no formal qualifications, such as cleaners and shelf-fillers.Adam Hawkins, managing director of the Adecco Group, said, "This research raises serious questions about the potential impact of Brexit. With EU workers currently making up six per cent of all UK employees, thousands of businesses could be left in limbo for years following a vote to leave."Uncertainty is bad for business, particularly those looking to hire and invest in the future. The recruitment industry has seen a significant slowdown in the number of businesses looking to hire permanent staff as we draw nearer to the referendum."Any change to the UK's relationship with the EU could hinder UK businesses' ability to attract the workforce needed for our industries."Meanwhile, the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index (PMI) for UK manufacturing said the sector recorded a contraction last month for the first time in three years, reflecting concerns ahead of June's referendum.The PMI had a reading of 49.2 in April in an index where any reading below 50 represents contraction. The report warned of an "atmosphere of deep unease" in the factory supply chain as new orders slumped for a fourth month row and job losses increased amid unease over the outcome of the referendum, which is exacerbating tough trading conditions in the global economy.A separate report from the jobs website Adzuna warned of problems in the jobs market because of uncertainty over the EU referendum and the introduction of a new minimum wage of £7.20 an hour in the UK.
Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna, said, "It's a time of turbulence for the jobs market. Unemployment is climbing and political uncertainty could well be impacting hiring plans."In particular, recent reports indicate hiring permanent staff may be put on pause until after the EU referendum as employers turn to temporary workers to fill gaps."Predictions of risks to jobs and the economy show how vulnerable the employment sector can be to wider economic change."The new national living wage also poses a natural challenge to the status quo. Nerves about bigger wage bills could mean staff perks will be first to go to fund companies' extra costs. These reports are already flowing in, with overtime pay already taking a hit."
Relocate Global Spring Issue 2016

Read more about how the UK economy is weathering seismic changes from around the world including the uncertainty over Brexit in David Sapsted’s analysis for our Spring 2016 edition.

For more Relocate Global news and features about the implications of a vote for Brexit, visit our enterprise, UK and Europe sections.

Click here for more about immigration.

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