Govt to analyse migrant workers’ future after Brexit

The Home Secretary has asked the government’s independent advisers on migration to complete a detailed assessment of the role of EU nationals in the UK economy and society.

The lack of clear understanding as to what the post- Brexit future may hold will increasingly have an impact on investment decision-making.
The lack of clear understanding as to what the post- Brexit future may hold will increasingly have an impact on investment decision-making.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to examine the British labour market, the overall role of migration in the wider economy and how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy.

The commission represents an extremely important piece of work, with the current level of free movement ending when the nation exits the EU. Plans for the UK’s future immigration system have proven to be a key part of ongoing negotiations, with many seeking far greater clarity as to how the government plans to manage the bi-lateral flow of people.

The Home Office will ask the MAC to focus the study on patterns of EU and EEA (European Economic Area) migration, considering regional distribution, skill levels, industry sectors, and the role of the self-employed, part-time, agency, temporary and seasonal workers.

Amber Rudd commented: “Leaving the European Union gives us the opportunity to take control of immigration from the EU. We will ensure we continue to attract those who benefit us economically, socially and culturally.

“But, at the same time, our new immigration system will give us control of the volume of people coming here – giving the public confidence we are applying our own rules on who we want to come to the UK and helping us to bring down net migration to sustainable levels.

“The study I am asking the Migration Advisory Committee to complete is a major step in ensuring we create a system that works in the best interests of the country.”

The Home Secretary also underlined there will be an implementation period when the UK leaves the EU to ensure there is no ‘cliff edge’ for employers or EU nationals in the UK.

  • 76% of manufacturers have at least one EU national working in their business
  • On average, EU nationals make up 11% of the manufacturing workforce
  • EU nationals are most likely to fill process, plant and machine operative roles, as well as associate professional (e.g. engineers) and technician roles
  • 64% of manufacturers recruit EU nationals because of an insufficient number of UK candidates applying for their roles
  • 33% of employers say they recruit EU nationals because UK nationals do not hold the skills their businesses need

* EEF (2017) Your Workforce & Brexit Survey findings

In addition to the MAC commission, there will reportedly be an extensive cross-government programme of engagement over the coming months with stakeholders from several sectors, including business, industry, trades unions and educational institutions.

The MAC, which comprises of a group of internationally recognised experts in their field, will assess and build on the internal cross-government work that has already been completed.

Responding to the announcement, EEF’s director of employment & skills policy, Tim Thomas commented: “This is a welcome announcement which reflects industry’s concerns.

“The Migration Advisory Committee is best placed to provide independent and evidence-based thinking on what a new model for EU migration could and should look like after Brexit, with employers key to the new model’s design.

“Manufacturers rely heavily on EU workers as well as non-EU nationals to fill crucial roles within their businesses and any immediate restriction in this supply would only exacerbate the current skills crisis in the sector.

“Many Manufacturers will see this announcement as a first step, with the government for the first time acknowledging that future migration changes will be implemented in a measured way over a period of years. Whilst this announcement was much needed, the fate of EU nationals already in the UK before Brexit now needs settled quickly, positively and conclusively.”