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Overall supply of EU migrants remains resilient, but fall in net migration should sound alarm for UK economy

The latest sharp fall in net migration should sound an alarm for the UK economy and employers if the overall trend continues in the months and years ahead.

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However, the latest data also show that the number of EU nationals that have come to the UK to work remains broadly consistent with the pre-Brexit trend, despite the UK’s decision to leave the European Union according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in response to the ONS Migration Statistics Quarterly Report. 

Commenting on the latest migration statistics from the ONS, Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development said:

 “While today’s figures show a strong demand for EU workers in the UK, the decrease in the number of EU citizens coming into the UK, coupled with a large increase in those leaving, suggests that some EU citizens are voting with their feet. If this tightening continues, employers need to be prepared to deal with more constraints on access to labour in the future. The rising proportion of EU citizens that have a job offer when they come to the live and work in the UK indicates that employers and jobseekers’ attitudes towards free movement of labour are beginning to change, with some clearly taking pro-active steps to offset the uncertainty that the vote has created.

“Looking ahead, the data underlines the need for policymakers to conduct a thorough analysis of where genuine skills and labour shortages lie alongside employer efforts to address these shortages.  CIPD research has shown that some employers are still unable to fill unskilled or semi-skilled roles despite their best efforts to recruit local applicants through widening recruitment channels, investing in skills and raising pay, which suggests that future government policy should avoid the dogmatic ‘brightest and best’ approach.  A window of opportunity exists within which employers need to prepare for migration restrictions with a more sophisticated approach to workforce planning and development to avoid future skills gaps or shortages.”