Falling Net Migration Seen Hurting UK Employers’ Ability to Hire

Falling Net Migration Seen Hurting UK Employers’ Ability to Hire

The latest migration figures from the UK’s Office of National Statistics, released last week, showed that the number of people emigrating to the UK from EU countries had fallen to its lowest level in four years, the Guardian reported:

Data from the Office for National Statistics released on Monday showed net long-term migration to the UK from the EU was 101,000 in 2017 – the lowest level since the year ending March 2013. Overall, the data showed that about 280,000 more people came to the UK than left in 2017.

While net migration continues to add to the UK population, the figure is down from record highs recorded in 2015 and early 2016. There has been a gradual increase in emigration since 2015 to approximately 350,000. Immigration has stayed stable at about 630,000, the report showed. Net migration from countries outside the EU rose to 227,000, the highest level since September 2010.

Concerned about the impact of immigration on wages and job opportunities in the domestic labor market, the UK government in 2010 set a goal of cutting net migration figures to below 100,000 a year. Curbing immigration from the EU was also one of the key objectives of Brexit. The British business community, however, has warned that reductions in immigration will make it harder for UK employers to fill jobs, slowing down hiring and hurting the economy.

In the context of a very tight labor market, these new figures are bad news for employers, Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, tells Jo Faragher at Personnel Today:

He said: “Even with settled status rights agreed up to 2021, and the prospect of further, sharp annual increases to the national living wage that will affect a large proportion of eastern European workers; it remains highly doubtful that these developments will be enough to offset EU net migration decelerating in the short-term.

“It seems that many EU workers and UK employers are still unaware of, or perhaps lack confidence in, the settled status of EU workers that has been agreed to both before and during the transitional period of the UK exiting the EU.” Davies added that countries such as Poland, Germany and the Netherlands now offered buoyant labour markets for EU workers, offering “attractive options beyond the UK” for those put off by Brexit uncertainty.

UK employers in industries like manufacturing, technology and finance, as well as hospitality and agriculture, have expressed serious concerns about their access to talent after Brexit, which the government has confirmed will end the free movement of people between the UK and the EU, with few exceptions. A report released in April projected that the UK would likely face a severe labor shortage in the coming decade, while the CIPD asserted last year that British employers could not meet their labor needs without foreign talent.