Brexit Jobs Forecast: Every company in every sector in the UK will be competing for a reduced pool of available workers

Posted on Friday, April 28, 2017 by Nadio GranataNo comments

A recent report published in the Guardian claims that the pool of available workers in the UK is shrinking fast. Official figures reveal that the number of EU-born workers in the UK fell by 50,000 between October 2016 and December 2016 to 2.3 million, in a decline led by people working in banking, the public sector and construction.

When I’m not writing this column on behalf of Stafflex or working in London for a high-tech company, I’m a Teaching Fellow at the University of Leeds Business School. The most common question I get asked there, by the 480 marketing Masters students on this year’s course, is … “can you help find me a sponsor”.

In one short year, the biggest cohort of international students ever to study marketing at Leeds University has had their worlds turned upside down as they prepare to complete their degrees this summer and return back to whence they came as they fear they will not be able to stay long term in the UK due to post-Brexit changes in employment law.

When you consider the combined effect of the phenomena that is fewer students carrying out unskilled and semi-skilled jobs and fewer workers arriving from Europe, the maths are there for all to see.

According to the report, a shortage of labour is starting to be felt across the economy. From construction, farming and manufacturing to care homes, hotels and restaurants. While the number of EU nationals leaving is limited at present, many businesses, according to the Bank of England, are having trouble hiring from abroad. Some are renting houses for employees or providing minibuses to ferry people to work, as ways of attracting desperately needed staff.

Amid fears that the trickle of departing European workers will become a flood, the search is on for solutions. One of them is investment in automation. Driverless cars are not the only technological advancement likely to affect the workforce in the next year or so. Robotic solutions like those manufactured here in Huddersfield and surrounding towns are beginning to gain traction as the cost/benefits ratio starts to make even more sense when you add into the equation the inevitable labour shortage we face.

Seasonality is another factor to be considered as local labour markets shift into field work across the farms of Yorkshire and beyond.

The industries most likely to get affected by the labour shortage will be:

  • Farming

  • Catering and hospitality

  • Construction

  • Manufacturing

  • Health and social care

With the pound falling by approximately 20%, the number of migrant workers such as chefs and farm labourers heading to the UK is already falling. This huge reduction in available cash after their living costs, to send back home to their families, makes the UK a far less attractive employer as they shift to places like France, Sweden and Germany where their disposable income is greater.

And so, dear reader, the moral of the story is … if you are an employer or looking to become a business owner anytime soon, recruit your staff now and get them trained up before you join the fight to recruit more from less.



Nadio Granata mcim, airp, fhea is Head of Marketing at Stafflex, a Teaching Fellow at University of Leeds and Head of Content at makepositive


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