Low-skilled sectors suffering from the decline in EU nationals working in the UK

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UK sectors which employ a high number of EU nationals are starting to suffer from labour and skills shortages following the UK’s Brexit vote, according to the latest Labour Market Outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and The Adecco Group.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that vacancies in retail and wholesale, manufacturing, health and accommodation, and food services make up 45% of all vacancies. These low-skilled sectors typically employ a large number of EU nationals.

The Labour Market Outlook also found that 27% of employers have seen evidence to suggest that EU nationals were considering leaving their organisations and/or the UK in 2017.

Official data also suggests a sharp drop in the number of EU nationals working in the UK, from an average of more than 60,000 per quarter in the nine months to June 2016 to just 30,000 in the three months to September 2016.

Despite the significant slowdown in the number of EU nationals coming to the UK, and the threat of some leaving, 27% of employers which employ EU nationals are still unsure of how many EU nationals they employ in their workforce, the research found.

Gerwyn Davies, labour market adviser for the CIPD, said: “Employers need to start collecting data about their workforce and review their approach to workforce development and training to avoid a squeeze on skills and the workforce. Employers in sectors like retail, hospitality and care, will need to work much harder to attract candidates and combat labour shortages by improving the attractiveness of their jobs through better line management and job design, developing closer links with local educational institutions and improving pay and employment conditions where possible.”

John L. Marshall, chief executive of The Adecco Group UK & Ireland, added: “It is encouraging that some employers are beginning to look to new solutions for their future workforce with investment in retraining and apprenticeships, but many more need to begin this planning and investment in their workforce. 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.”