Business

Worsening shortage of skilled workers as fewer EU nationals come to UK

Firms are suffering from a "supply shock" of fewer EU nationals coming to the UK, according to new research.

FIRMS are suffering from a "supply shock" of fewer EU nationals coming to the UK, according to new research.

There has been a huge fall over the past year in the number of EU-born workers in this country, which is one of the reasons behind the worsening shortage of skilled staff, said the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Firms are reporting problems filling vacancies because of fewer and less suitable applicants, a survey of 2,000 employers found.

The number of applicants per vacancy has fallen since last summer across all levels of skilled jobs, said the CIPD.

The number of EU-born workers in the UK increased by 7,000 between the first three months of 2017 and the same quarter this year compared with 148,000 between 2016 and 2017, said the report.

The number of applications for each low-skilled vacancy has fallen from 25 to 20 in the past few years and from 19 to 10 for medium skilled posts.

Half of organisations having recruitment problems have increased starting salaries in response.

Gerwyn Davies of 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 of the Adecco Group recruitment firm, which helped with the research, 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."

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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