What could Brexit mean for staff mobility and finding the right skills?

17 November 2017

Talking to my clients and colleagues, one of the top concerns for private businesses relating to Brexit is the potential impact on their people and employment pipelines.

Finding the right staff and skills for jobs is a priority for businesses across the board, but it is especially crucial for small companies and startups where each new recruit makes up a significant portion of the team. They’re already competing with huge corporate firms to attract talent – is Brexit going to make this even tougher?

Analysis in our latest UK Economic Outlook has found that limiting migration from the European Economic Area (EEA) could disproportionately impact some sectors and regions. While EEA workers account for around 7% of total UK employment, certain industries and areas are much more dependent on them than others.

In 2016, almost a third of the UK’s food manufacturing workforce was EEA-born, while accommodation, warehousing, food and beverage services and construction are also relatively highly reliant on EEA employees. Regionally, London has the highest percentage of these workers at 14% compared to a UK average of 7%.

By identifying the sectors and regions that could be worst affected by limiting migration from the EEA, private businesses can assess the potential impact on their workforce and make informed decisions about the future. The government could also use the data to make informed decisions on future migration policy and target their support to businesses accordingly.

Additionally, our economists’ illustrative analysis finds halving net migration from the EU would only have a relatively small impact on average UK GDP per capita, reducing it by around £60 per person in 2030.

 The prime minister’s recent announcement of 1,000 extra visas for talented digital professionals is good news for private businesses concerned about the ability to retain and recruit skilled staff post-Brexit. This shows that the government is determined to continue to bring more talent to the UK and will support tech businesses, both through the extra visas and the committed £61m of funding to grow Tech Nation which will help us nurture and grow our own talent.

At PwC we’re using the apprenticeship levy to fund technology degree apprenticeships in Birmingham and Leeds, which will give more young people the opportunity to develop their technology skills and alongside gaining broader work experience.

While the future of EU migration to the UK isn’t clear yet, private businesses can start to assess the possible impact limits could have on different sectors and regions. Flagging potential skills shortages to government at an early stage is a good way to encourage policy which can plug the gaps.


For more information or to discuss, contact PwC’s Fast Growth leader, Brian Henderson.

Brian Henderson

Brian Henderson | Fast Growth Companies Leader
Profile | Email | +44 (0)207 804 9018

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