Businesses 'alarmed about recruitment' as Brexit negotiations begin


Research conducted by CIPD and the NIESR, entitled ‘Facing the future: tackling labour and skills shortages post-Brexit’, has highlighted the need for a flexible, affordable and straightforward immigration system.

1 in 10 (11%) of businesses say the number of EU nationals they have recruited since Brexit has decreased.

While 1 in 5 organisations that anticipate significantly reduced access to EU worker skills alongside the need to retain EU market access, say they are considering relocating all or part of their UK operations outside the UK (11%). 9% will focus future growth outside the UK.

The research also calls on business to broaden their recruitment and people development strategies, so as to ensure they are doing everything possible to attract and develop UK workers, while highlighting the need for significant changes to Government skills policy.

35% of employers cite recruiting EU nationals because they cannot fill low or semi-skilled jobs with UK-born applicants.

A key takeaway from the new research is that the end of free movement of people from the EU will damage UK businesses and public service delivery, unless post-Brexit immigration policies take into account the UK’s need for both skilled and unskilled labour from the EU.

The research analysed employer perspectives on predicted migration restrictions across 1,000 organisations, employer focus groups held around the UK and in-depth interviews with HR leaders.

The qualitative research from focus groups and case study interviews reveals many employers already have difficulty attracting enough UK nationals to work in low paid, low skilled jobs, where hours can be anti-social and the work environment challenging. This is most pronounced in regions such as the East Midlands and South West of England and, in some cases, despite raising pay and investing in skills.

More employers in sectors such as retail and hospitality are reporting that they employ UK migrants because they have lower expectations in terms of pay and employment conditions (15%) than the employer average across the survey (7%).

Some participants are already taking action to widen their recruitment channels in an effort to boost employment across different groups and propose to raise pay in response to migration restrictions. Especially in sectors such as retail where the proportion of EU nationals in low-skilled roles is relatively high.   

Employers, especially in sectors that have traditionally relied on migrant workers, are sceptical over whether efforts to attract a wider range of UK candidates will prove sufficient.

The report recommends that future immigration policy to replace free movement must be:


  • New policies for EU nationals should be aligned as closely as possible with the existing points based system for non EU nationals
  • Government should avoid introducing a complex array of sector or regional based immigration policies which could lead to disparities and unfairness
  • Any changes to immigration policy for EU citizens should be introduced at the end of a three-year transitional period once negotiations are completed


  • Government should review and expand the labour shortage occupation list for EU nationals to include jobs at lower levels of skills and salary where there is evidence that labour shortages are difficult address and damaging to employers
  • Government should review the Resident Labour Market Test and make it more appropriate for employers facing damaging labour shortages by reducing the requirement to advertise jobs through Job Centre Plus from 28 to 14 days
  • The Youth Mobility Scheme should be extended to all 18-30 year old EU migrants and EU students with a bachelor’s degree or above should be allowed to remain in the UK, without requiring a job, for two years


  • In applying the existing points-based system for non EU workers to EU workers, Government should halve the sponsorship licence fee for public sector employers and review the other costs that employers are subject to, for example the health surcharge, the skills levy and the fee to for every non-EU national they employ.


Tuesday, 20 June 2017

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