The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) has warned that decisions about future UK immigration policy should be based on impartial, expert advice rather than politics to avoid risks to the jobs market and the economy at a time of record employment.
The professional body for the recruitment industry has today published comprehensive analysis of how the 2.2 million EU nationals currently participating in the UK labour market contribute by sector and region, in partnership with the Migration Policy Institute and Fragomen LLP. Findings include:
- EU nationals represent 7 per cent of the total UK labour force, but reliance is higher in sectors such as manufacturing (11 per cent of the workforce / 319,300 workers), retail and hospitality (9 per cent / 520,100 workers) and construction (8 per cent / 192,400 workers)
- the proportion of EU workers is much higher in specific industries, including food processing (33 per cent of the workforce / 116,400 workers), domestic personnel (26 per cent / 15,700 workers) and warehousing (18 per cent / 64,900 workers)
- EU nationals make up 17 per cent of the workforce in London, including a third of its construction workers (33 per cent) and a fifth (21 per cent) of its retail and hospitality workers. The financial and business service sector is the largest employer of EU nationals in the capital with 191,400 employees, or 16 per cent of the workforce.
The REC has outlined 21 recommendations to government based on these findings, including:
- grant greater independence and autonomy to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), to inform policy and establish evidence-based targets
- develop a five-year roadmap for the implementation of new immigration policy which avoids a ‘cliff-edge’ when the UK leaves the EU, providing clarity for business
- build a visa system that reflects the UK’s dependency on workers from the EU for a wide variety of roles, including provisions for seasonal and temporary workers.
REC chief executive Kevin Green says:
“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. This report is a significant contribution to the critical debate on immigration. It shows that businesses need access to people to deliver growth, and that the current UK workforce alone cannot meet demand.
“Designing the post-Brexit immigration system is an enormous task and it cannot happen only in Whitehall. Recruiters are on the frontline of the labour market, and we are ready to work with the government to design and deliver policies that will help the country prosper.”