‘Reversal’ of migrant workers sees labour and skills shortages, says CIPD

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fresh concerns: firms are struggling to recruit after a reversal of growth in the number of both EU and non-EU migrants
Fresh concerns: firms are struggling to recruit after a reversal of growth in the number of both EU and non-EU migrants
Businesses are experiencing worsening skills and labour shortages after a reversal of migrant workers in the UK, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

A labour supply shock has been driven primarily by falling interest from migrants from outside the EU, the CIPD said.

More than 1,000 employers were surveyed by the CIPD and the Adecco Group for their labour market report.

Among employers that currently have vacancies, seven in 10 (70%) reported at least some of their vacancies are proving hard to fill.

Labour supply shock 

More than two in five of all employers (44%) said it had become more difficult to fill vacancies over the past 12 months.

“The data implies that the pendulum has swung away from the UK as an attractive place to live and work for non-UK-born citizens – especially non-EU citizens – during a period of strong employment growth and low unemployment,” said Gerwyn Davies, a market analyst for the CIPD, said.

The number of non-UK-born workers in the UK decreased by 58,000 between June 2017 and June 2018, yet during the same period in 2016 to 2017, this number had increased by 263,000.

Immigration policy concerns have been reignited
Immigration policy concerns have been reignited

Pressure on firms

Davies added: “This has heightened recruitment difficulties for some employers.

“It also underlines the risk that more non-UK-born citizens and employers will be discouraged from using the post-Brexit system if more support is not provided and it is not made simpler, fairer and more affordable; especially for lower-skilled roles.

“Against the backdrop of a tight labour market, failure to do this will heighten recruitment difficulties and could lead to negative consequences for existing staff, such as higher workloads, and loss of business or orders for firms.”

The CIPD said some employers felt pressure to increase pay rates, with around half of companies (48%) that have struggled to recruit increasing their starting salaries in response.

Companies said they have struggled to recruit
Companies said they have struggled to recruit

Trade body concerns

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the figures made for “alarming reading” and reiterated the trade body’s disapproval of the Government’s post-Brexit immigration plans.

She said: “With unemployment relatively low, businesses need to recruit from outside the UK to augment their home-grown teams and continue to grow.

“We have already voiced our concerns about the ability of employers to recruit post-Brexit, but the worrying reality is that numbers of non-UK workers are dwindling, and we haven’t even left the EU yet.

“If the talent pool continues to shrink, then businesses will be unable to invest and grow their businesses.”

Prime Minister Theresa May pledged low-skilled migration would decrease when free movement is ushered out by Brexit next year.

The Government said high-skilled workers would be prioritised regardless of whether their country belongs to the EU.

“Restricting potential applicants into the hospitality sector further, when the number of non-UK born workers is already shrinking, will be a disaster for the sector,” said Nicholls.

The news comes as the hospitality sector looks to improve its image as a viable career option among young people,​ who make up about 50% of the hospitality workforce.

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