We are pleased to have recently partnered with EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, to produce this report calling on government to give companies and their workforce increased clarity over the future of EU citizens to stem the flow of those leaving the UK. The report warns that nearly half of the UK’s manufacturers remain concerned about their ability to access skills post-Brexit and that:
- 13% of manufacturers report an increase in EU workers leaving their businesses
- 16% have introduced schemes and policies to retain their older workforce
- 17% of companies saw a slump in applications from European citizens
Whilst companies are concerned about accessing skills post-Brexit, they are picking up the pace to secure the skills they may need. Nearly half (47%) of those manufacturers questioned are also increasing training programmes for all existing employees and 37% are increasing apprenticeship and/or graduate recruitment programmes. Improving pay and benefits packages is the route taken by 20% of companies in order to attract and retain staff for longer and 21% are accelerating plans for automation. Of course, none of this is easy and the report’s findings highlight the need to get domestic skills and training policy right, too.
Annabel Mace, who heads the firm’s UK Business Immigration Practice, made a key contribution to the report and commented:
“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 by the time we leave the EU 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.”