Brexit: Challenges to come, but UK still attractive place to work

The UK remains an attractive place to live and work following the Brexit referendum, but could face problems retaining “large numbers” of its foreign workforce, according to a new report.

Research by Deloitte found that there are likely to be “significant” changes in the labour market, which will require automation, better training for UK workers and “measured immigration” to overcome.

89 per cent of workers abroad said they see the UK as an attractive place to work and 87 per cent said they would consider moving to the UK if the right opportunity came along.

94 per cent of highly-skilled non-EU citizens said they would move to the UK if they could, compared to 83 per cent of highly-skilled EU citizens. 79 per cent of less-skilled EU nationals would make the move, while 93 per cent of less-skilled non-EU citizens would consider it.

57 per cent of all respondents placed the UK in their top three destinations to live and it ranked about the US, Australia and Canada as the most desirable place to work.

However, the attitudes of foreign workers already within the UK are shifting. 48 per cent say the nation is less attractive as a result of Brexit, compared to 21 per cent of those outside the UK.

65 per cent of highly-skilled EU workers in the UK reported a drop in attractiveness, compared to 49 per cent of highly-skilled non-EU workers employed in the country.

Among less-skilled workers, 42 per cent of EU nationals and 25 per cent of non-EU nationals say the country is less attractive – although 30 per cent of non-EU workers say it is now more attractive.

Overall, 36 per cent of non-British workers in the UK say they are considering leaving the UK in the next five years, while 26 per cent say they are considering leaving within three years.

“These shifts in the UK labour market come in the midst of a longer-term employment transition where automation is beginning to transform the world of work,” said Angus Knowles-Cutler, vice chairman and London senior partner at Deloitte. “Brexit does not change the fundamental factors shaping this but has altered calculations on how to drive change for best advantage.

“The UK economy depends on migrant workers to plug gaps in both highly skilled and lower skilled jobs. If immigration and upskilling can help fill higher skill roles, automation can help to reduce reliance in lower-skill positions.

“This will require careful consideration region by region and sector by sector, but there is a golden opportunity for UK workers and UK productivity if we get it right.”

Photo © Nick Page (CC BY 2.0). Cropped.

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