Current Brexit-linked skills shortage could damage economy, CIPD report warns

Employers are facing increasing labour and skills shortages that could impede the economy due to fewer EU migrants looking for work in the UK after the Brexit vote, a new report has found.

Bosses in manufacturing, healthcare, food and hospitality are reporting recruitment shortfalls, according to a Labour Market Outlook report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and The Adecco Group that surveyed more than 1000 employers.

A quarter of the organisations said they also had evidence that EU staff working for them were considering quitting their jobs or leaving Britain in 2017.

CIPD labour market adviser, Gerwyn Davis, said: “This is creating significant recruitment challenges in sectors that have historically relied on non-UK labour to fill roles. With skills and labour shortages set to continue, there’s a risk that many vacancies will be left unfilled which could act as a brake on output growth in the UK in the years ahead.”

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said investment in skills needs to increase drastically to keep up with the shortages and that any Brexit deal must ensure tariff free access to the single market.

Burke said, “The government announced their outline for an industrial strategy recently and it was a truly disappointing document. Provisions for apprenticeships and skills of just £17million was woeful. On skills alone, being outside of the single market will have significant impact.

“Engineering UK, a body with whom we have a good relationship, told our Manufacturing Combine we need 182,000 new engineers every year until 2022 just to catch up.”

Unite is calling for EU migration reform that safeguards all workers against wage cutting, including ending the exploitation of migrant workers.

The union says these safeguards must contain stronger collective bargaining rights, so any employer wishing to recruit labour abroad should only be able to do so if they are either covered by a proper trade union agreement or by sectoral collective bargaining.

Such measures would guarantee a union-backed ‘rate for the job’, no matter a workers’ country of origin and end the race-to-the bottom attacks on wages, terms and conditions.