Statistics released show net migration of EU nationals has fallen by 75,000 in the past year.
The latest quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that total annual net migration to Britain in the 12 months to September fell by 29,000 to 244,000. Net migration from outside Europe rose to 205,000 during the year, masking the fall from inside the EU.
At 90,000, net migration from within the EU means more people are still coming to live in Britain than going home, but it is lower than those coming from outside Europe and is at its lowest level since 2012.
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics and public policy at King’s College, London, told the Financial Times the deterioration in EU migration showed the UK was “significantly less attractive” to EU nationals. “Falls in EU migration are already adversely affecting some sectors, for example the NHS, where they have aggravated existing staff shortages,” he said.
The fall in EU migration follows a significant increase in applications for Tier 2 skilled migrants visas over the last few months. This increase highlights the increasing pressure being felt by employers who are struggling to recruit the talent they need to scale up.
Because the quota for Tier 2 (General) Visas has been hit for three months in a row, foreign-born medical specialists, software specialists, and other skilled staff are being turned away despite vacancies.
The skills shortage is affecting multiple sectors in the UK. For example, construction experts have said a severe shortage of workers means the Government has little hope of meeting its housebuilding target. And it is not just skilled labour that is lacking; there is a desperate need for more professionals such as surveyors and engineers.
At the end of last year, it was also reported by every major newspaper that a shortage of migrants had resulted in fruit and vegetables being left to rot in the fields. The National Farmers Union has subsequently called for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme to be implemented.
The UK agricultural sector is deeply reliant on pickers from the EU — notably eastern Europe — for seasonal work. Low unemployment rates and the seasonal nature of farm work makes it difficult to attract UK workers, the sector argues.
The IT sector is also expecting 2018 to be another tough year when it comes to recruiting talent.
It is certainly not doom and gloom for employers – those who are determined to recruit the talent they need to grow are now obtaining Tier 2 Sponsor Licences. This allows them to hire from countries outside the EEA, providing they meet strict compliance criteria. Our Immigration team can assist you with exploring the idea of obtaining a licence.
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Posted on: Tuesday, 03 April, 2018