May under pressure to drop UK immigration target

12 Jul 2017 | Posted by Carl Thomas

 Prime Minister Theresa May has been warned to drop her target of reducing UK immigration numbers after a report warned that Brexit is already leaving many UK companies struggling to recruit enough staff.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the body representing the recruitment industry, the government’s lack of post-Brexit UK immigration policy is currently adding to uncertainty among businesses and UK-based EU workers alike.

Based on a survey of 607 employers, the REC found evidence that an increasing numbers of UK businesses are having to recruit temporary workers in order to plug skills gaps, with around 87 per cent intending to increase their use of temporary staff within the next three months.

Commenting on the results of the survey, REC chief executive Kevin Green suggested that Brexit is making this situation more challenging, particularly in industries such as construction.

In fact, Mr Green stated that the construction industry’s reliance on access to skilled workers from non-UK countries means the impact of Brexit could completely exacerbate ongoing uncertainty for workers.

“In London for example, a third of people working in construction are from the EU and it’s difficult to see how firms will manage if their workforce aren’t encouraged to stay in the UK and continue to contribute to our economy,” he said.

Mr Green added: “Decisions about the future immigration system are too important to be subject to political whim - we need policy to be built on sound evidence and data.”

The REC “job outlook” report has suggested that engineering, construction and education could all face this issue in September or October if changes to the UK immigration system aren’t implemented soon.