UK manufacturers concerned about future post-Brexit

A new report reveals that around half of the UK’s manufacturers remain concerned about their ability to access skilled workers post-Brexit.

The report, carried out by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, and global law firm Squire Patton Bogg, revealed that there is a great uncertainty among employers in the manufacturing industry regarding quite how Brexit will impact them.

The findings showed that Four in ten of manufacturing employers need support in understanding the ways to support their EU employees to gain residency/settled status, while 68 per cent want guidance on what the changes post Brexit will mean for employers and their EU employees.

Manufacturing companies saw a 17 per cent drop in applications from European citizens last year, while a further 13 per cent of manufacturers still report an increase in EU workers leaving their businesses. Many of those employees are returning to the EU permanently, with companies struggling to recruit suitably skilled staff in the UK.

Almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of manufacturers regularly send employees to other EU member states to work on projects – something it is feared will also become harder after March 2019.

“Skills shortages are endemic in manufacturing and engineering and companies are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to access the skills they need post-Brexit,” said Tim Thomas, director of skills and employment policy at EEF. “While the slump in job applications from the EU has slowed, there is still much to be done to make sure UK businesses are still able to attract the very best talent from Europe over the coming months as we proceed towards our exit from the EU as well as retaining that talent after Britain leaves the EU.”

Annabel Mace, partner and head of immigration at Squire Patton Boggs, added: “The UK Government should indicate now that a light-touch post-Brexit immigration policy for EU citizens will be introduced and without mirroring the cost and complexity associated with the Points Based System for non-EU workers. With less than two years to go before the end of the proposed transition period and the possibility that a new immigration system may take at least another year to be decided on, let alone implemented, it is difficult for manufacturers who rely on EU workers of all skill levels to make meaningful contingency plans.”

Article published 22nd May 2018