One in three manufacturers report EU worker losses
22 May 2018
Nearly one in three UK companies surveyed in a new report say they have suffered a slump in EU applications or an increase in the number of European workers quitting their employment.
Navigating Brexit: The Migration Minefield, published by manufacturers’ organisation the EEF in partnership with global law firm Squire Patton Boggs, records that the decline in EU job applications has at least slowed down from the immediate aftermath of the referendum last year.
However, nearly half of manufacturers who responded to the survey said that they remained concerned about access to sufficient skilled workers within Britain.
Almost as high a percentage said they are increasing their training programmes for current staff. One in five said they were increasing pay and benefits in order to retain employees.
Annabel Mace, partner and head of immigration at Squire Patton Boggs, warned firms dependent on EU labour could not easily adapt in so short a timescale:“With less than two years to go before the end of the proposed transition period and the possibility that a new immigration system may take at least another year to be decided on, let alone implemented, it is difficult for manufacturers who rely on EU workers of all skill levels to make meaningful contingency plans.
It is difficult for manufacturers who rely on EU workers of all skill levels to make meaningful contingency plans
Annabel Mace, partner and head of immigration, Squire Patton Boggs
EEF director of skills and employment policy Tim Thomas added that the report demonstrated the need for the country to do more to attract overseas labour.
“Skills shortages are endemic in manufacturing and engineering and companies are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to access the skills they need post-Brexit,” he said.
“While the slump in job applications from the EU has slowed, there is still much to be done to make sure UK businesses are still able to attract the very best talent from Europe over the coming months as we proceed towards our exit from the EU as well as retaining that talent after Britain leaves the EU.”
The EEF also highlighted another consequence of more restricted labour movement that has received less attention from industry: more complex rules governing workers posted to Europe by British employers.
Nearly three-quarters of manufacturers currently send employees to EU countries. Yet, while more than half of companies polled sent workers for marketing and sales purposes and 24% for servicing and repair work, even the traditional trade fair attendance is liable for attention.
Some 57% of manufacturers sent staff to exhibitions and events in the last three years – this would count as an official posting after March 2019.