Foreign exodus leaves skills shortage before Brexit

Employers planning to take on staff are being hit by a skills shortage because of an exodus of foreign workers, a survey has found.

The jobs market is in the throes of a “supply shock”, with the flight of adults born outside Britain highlighting the dearth of skilled workers in many key sectors, according to research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and Adecco, the staffing company.

Seven in ten employers have had difficulties filling vacant positions, with two out of five warning that recruiting the right people has become harder over the past year, according to the survey of more than 1,000 companies.

Uncertainties around Brexit and the drop in the value of the pound in the aftermath of the 2016 referendum have been blamed for a reduction in the number of foreigners working in the UK. The number of workers in Britain who were born abroad decreased by 58,000 between the second quarters of 2017 and 2018, compared with an increase of 263,000 over the previous 12-month period, according to the institute’s report. The fall has been driven primarily by a drop in the number of migrants from outside the European Union, it said.

“The labour market in the UK is tight and this research is reporting increasingly high levels of recruitment and retention difficulties. While the data is not showing wages rising across the board, we are regularly seeing this pressure being exerted in the recruitment space,” Alex Fleming, who runs Adecco’s British division, said.

The report warned that the labour supply could be further “constrained” from 2021, when migration restrictions for EU citizens would be introduced under present Brexit plans. A third of employers polled by the institute said that the administrative burden of extending the points-based visa system used for non-EU citizens to European workers would be “too great”.

Separate data from Indeed, a job-hunting website, found that non-European jobseekers looking for skilled jobs in the UK outnumbered Britons by as much as fifteen to one for some roles, including IT consultants, research fellows and developers.

The numbers of EU and non-EU jobseekers searching for skilled jobs in Britain has remained stable this year, its research found, with one in ten enquiries for British technology jobs coming from jobseekers abroad.

About Steve Young

Steve Young is the Managing Partner of Downtown Recruitment who are based in Thame, Oxfordshire. Downtown Recruitment provide a wide variety of temporary and permanent staff to the local area covering a wide range of disciplines across the commercial and industrial sectors. View Downtown Recruitment's main website
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