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CIPD - Dramatic fall in inflow of migrant workers could trigger skills shortage as economy recovers
The CIPD urges Government to take steps to boost training and re-skilling of domestic workforce to compensate for loss of migrants’ skills
The latest quarterly official migration statistics, published last week, highlight a dramatic fall in the number of migrants registering to work in the UK. The results show that the number of National Insurance Number (NINo) registrations to EU nationals decreased by 99% between July and September 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. Meanwhile registrations to non-EU nationals decreased by 65% during the same period.
Due to the imminent ending of free movement and ongoing restrictions on migrant movements to the UK due to the pandemic, the number of EU workers entering the UK is set to remain subdued for the foreseeable future.
In response, the CIPD is highlighting the urgent need for Government to take steps to increase investment in training and ensure UK-born workers have the skills to compensate for the sharp fall in availability of migrant workers from the EU, which will be particularly felt as the economy recovers.
Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:
“This is a staggering fall in registrations, reflecting not just the current restrictions of the pandemic but the fact that the stock of overseas workers in the UK may be falling sharply.
“With unemployment set to increase sharply over the next year as more stringent migration restrictions are introduced, it’s inevitable that more overseas workers, especially EU jobseekers, will find it easier to work or seek work in other parts of the EU.
This won’t concern employers too much in the short-term while recruitment activity remains weak. However, the worry is that the combined impact of the apparent exodus of EU workers and the continued, subdued inflow of EU jobseekers in particular will feed into recruitment difficulties in the medium-term.
“The good news is that this should force employers to make full use of available UK workers, especially those recently made redundant with relevant skills and up to date experience.”
"To help tackle these challenges, it’s crucial that the unemployed have sufficient access to training and support so they can develop both technical and core transferable skills to find work in sectors which are likely to face skill or labour shortages as the economy recovers.”
“Reforming the Apprenticeship Levy into a more flexible training levy would also enable employers to use their levy funds for other forms of accredited training and skills development, as well as apprenticeships, boosting overall workforce skills investment.”
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