Five months since the Brexit agreement was entered into force, the consequences on the UK labour market are already visible with the number of immigrants in decline, and an increase in shortages of properly skilled labour in Great Britain.
A significant decline in the number of EU citizens settling in the UK, has made recruitment more difficult- especially in sectors where employers have traditionally employed foreign workers and those with fast staff turnovers (who are dependent on new arrivals). Migrant-reliant companies and sectors will need to adjust to this new situation by introducing new business models, investing in automation, rising or shrinking of prices to keep their businesses going.
Those that previously relied on EU workers to fill lower-paid jobs, such as cleaning, social care, distribution, childcare, food and hospitality, are the ones that are likely to demand an increased reliance on domestic candidates. This could be problematic in some cases, given a historical reluctance of home-grown workers to do some types of jobs and the fact that some jobs involve long training periods. Where recruitment difficulties have proven persistent, one obvious, and positive way, for these labour shortages to be filled would be to boost conditions, to pay better wages and entice new workers into these roles.
Migrant workers have played a big role in the growth of the UK labour force over the last 25 years, particularly in major cities, but the UK has been attracting fewer migrant workers since the referendum, and also seen an exodus of them during the pandemic. A lot of companies will need to be creative in how they respond to this and how they can attract the new workers from pools of candidates who may have different characteristics to those they previously relied on.