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Does a Dip in Low-Skilled Workers Add to The Recruiting Challenge?

  • July 16, 2020
 

Despite Brexit now being overshadowed by the coronavirus outbreak, the impact of the U.K.'s departure from the E.U. will continue. 

For businesses who employ key workers and for every organisation looking forward to opening up as soon as government restrictions are lifted, the recruiting challenge is still with us. 

Since the 2016 referendum, many low-skilled E.U. workers who would have previously applied and been accepted into the U.K. on working visas are now feeling discouraged to apply over concerns for the future.   

In February of this year, the government announced that low-skilled workers would not get visas under post-Brexit immigration plans which are set to come into effect after 31st December 2020. 

As a specialist executive recruiter in the sectors that are predicted to be most affected by the dip in low-skilled workers – supply chain, logistics, FMCG, manufacturing – I want to talk about what business owners can do in preparation for the changes.  

First, let's take a look at what we can expect to change once the Brexit transition period is over.  

 

Will COVID-19 Affect Brexit? 

We are currently set to leave the E.U. once and for all on 31st December 2020. However, the global coronavirus crisis may have caused further setbacks. Political commentators have highlighted the fact that essential recruitment and trade deals that should have been complete this year will no doubt be affected by the global pandemic. 

The F.T. stated that it is 'inconceivable' that the U.K. and the E.U. will have made the necessary progress by 30th June – the date which Boris Johnson needs to ask for an extension if the relevant progress hasn't been made.  

While much of Europe remains under 'lockdown', China is opening up again. Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, is now returning to normal. 

It is still unclear when regular service will return to U.K. businesses. What we can be sure of is that the time that coronavirus has taken from this year has created added pressure for those looking to recruit workers before the end of the Brexit transition period. 

When we do finally leave the E.U., how will this affect the recruitment of low-skilled workers? 

 

Post-Brexit Changes to Low-Skilled Workers 

Immigration plans were unveiled in January 2020, revealing that 'low-skilled' workers, notably anyone who earns less than £25,000 a year, will not be included in the U.K.'s immigration policy going forward. 

Instead, the home secretary said that the U.K. would be focusing on attracting the "brightest and the best" from around the world. 

While the aim is to attract the best talent from across the world to strengthen our economy, there is a significant portion of the U.K. economy that relies on low-skilled workers to operate.  

The government said that instead of relying on low-cost labour from overseas, U.K. businesses should instead focus on recruiting homegrown talent and training up current employees. But is this a feasible plan for U.K. businesses? Let's take a look at the reality of the situation. 

 

How Will the New Law Affect U.K. Businesses? 

A report by the CIPD has found that since the 2016 referendum, U.K. businesses have focused on retaining E.U. workers, rather than planning for restrictions in the future. 

The same report found that many British firms are simply 'not ready' for the introduction of the new measures and that labour shortages are a real possibility. The CIPD found that U.K. firms typically recruit migrant workers due to a lack of U.K. applicants, not due to preference.  

The government have said that firms must turn to the pool of untapped talent – the 8 million Britons who are 'economically inactive'. However, many of this number are students, carers and those on long-term sick leave.  

What else, then, can employers do to combat the upcoming recruiting challenge? 

 

How to Overcome the Recruiting Challenge 

Businesses who have in the past relied on low-skilled E.U. workers are going to see a considerable shift in the way they recruit and train their employees. 

The British Chamber of Commerce has identified gaps that still exist over the status of E.U. migrants, as the deadline grows nearer. They said "The implications of unclear government advice, and gaps in the system could be costly for businesses". 

With much uncertainty still surrounding the issue, one of the ways you can future-proof your business is to open up a dialogue with a recruiter with international experience. 

The CIPD report I mentioned above found that worryingly, 58 per cent of employers know nothing about the whitepaper that the government is working with the E.U. on to control migrant workers. A further 56 per cent said that they feel they don't have enough information to start making informed decisions about recruiting.  

At Martin Veasey, we support organisations to find the employees they need, and we can help you navigate the recruiting landscape as we approach a post-Brexit Britain. 

 

Next Steps 

Looking forward to when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, there will be a dwindling timeframe in which to ensure your recruiting needs are fully met. 

For expert recruiting advice on how to withstand these incoming changes, talk to us today to find out how we can help.  

 

Thanks, 

Roheela 

 

Next Steps 

If you are are looking to scale your team, or you’re an executive who is thinking about a change of role, we can help. With many years’ experience placing executive level candidates in their ideal job role, we can help create a smooth transition. 

So, if you would like to work with an experienced recruiting partner, call us on 01905 381320 or get in contact here.  
 

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