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UK hit by Brexit labour shortages

Monday, Feb 13, 2017,18:40 IST By anju A A A

London | The UK is being hit by labour shortage from the European Union (EU) in the wake of the historic Brexit referendum last June, according to a new survey released on Monday.

British businesses that rely heavily on EU nationals are finding it difficult to hire the right candidates as such workers decide to stay home, according to a survey by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel (CIPD) and the Adecco Group.

The survey shows that almost half of all the vacancies are in the retail and wholesale, manufacturing, health and accommodation and food services industries.

Fears of a so-called employee “Brexodus” are particularly high in the education and health care sectors, the survey indicates.

“Whilst the outcome of Brexit negotiations is still uncertain, employers’ access to EU migrant workers is likely to change. Investing in young people is a solid long-term strategy, but employers also need to face the facts and prepare for a situation where they might lose access to significant numbers of skilled EU workers in the near future,” said John Marshall, chief executive at the Adecco Group for the UK and Ireland.

The report, which was based on data from over 1,000 employers, also shows that more than a quarter of employers believe that the EU nationals they employ are considering leaving their jobs and possibly the country in 2017.

“This is creating significant recruitment challenges in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles,” said Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser for the CIPD.

The number of non-UK nationals from the EU living in the UK almost halved from an average of more than 60,000 per quarter in the nine months leading up to the June 2016 referendum to just 30,000 in the three months to September 2016, according to the most recent labour data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

While Britain’s labour market remains strong, the decision by voters to leave the European Union was likely to force companies to rethink their training strategies as they adjusted to having fewer EU workers in future.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is on track to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to begin the official process to leave the EU by the end of next month.

She has said the government wants to guarantee the rights of EU nationals already living in the UK but there is no clarity on that yet until the EU guarantees the rights of British nationals based in European countries.