Around 20% of SME's employ skilled EU workers according to the Federation of Small Businesses.
Net immigration has fallen by about one third following the Brexit vote with increasing numbers of EU workers leaving the UK. There are a number of factors underpinning the movement of EU workers leaving not least citizen rights and a perceived anti-immigrant sentiment in the UK.
As negotiations have progressed on the UK exit from the EU the rights of EU workers have become a little more clear if we strike a deal with the EU, however there is no certainty what their rights will be, if no deal can be agreed.
In a recent post by Real Business, SME's that are planning for Brexit are focusing on the following areas:
- Gathering data to understand who their people are and what they do, whether they’re EU nationals in the UK, or British nationals working in Europe
- Developing policies on financial support for applications for Residence Cards, Permanent Residence Cards and citizenship
- Engaging with and providing reassurance to staff who are worried about what Brexit will mean for them and their families
- Considering alternate staffing streams
Most vulnerable sectors where EU workers have biggest impact.
Accommodation & food services (EU workers make up over 14% of the total sector workforce). Manufacturing 10.3%. Transport and storage 13.5%
Whilst intentions by EU workers may change over the periods it is clear that there will be an impact on many sectors and action taken now can mitigate the adverse effects those movements.
UK businesses will have to critically evaluate their skills base and look at their investments in training to up-skill the workforce and examine where automation can be effective in replacing lost skills.
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