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ONS Migration Statistics response: UK loss of pulling power highlights need for more flexible controls on non-EU migration

Commenting on the latest official migration statistics published today by the Office for National Statistics and the Home Office, Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, comments:

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"Today’s figures offer further evidence that the UK labour market has lost its pulling power as far as EU citizens are concerned.  The drop in the value of the pound, the strong labour market performance of some EU economies and the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit are undoubtedly key factors behind the UK’s loss of standing among EU job seekers.  It is now clear that not only are fewer EU nationals coming to the UK, but many are also going home too; especially from the EU15 group of countries, which have seen emigration levels increase by 20% over the past year.

“At a time of record low unemployment and mounting recruitment and retention pressures, it is sensible that controls on migration from outside the EU are loosened to take the heat out of the tightening labour market.  A useful first step would be to amend the shortage occupation list for non-EU workers to include skills shortages at lower skill levels than graduate-level occupations, especially for sectors such as social care.  Some commentators might point to the increase in the number of non-EU citizens that arrived for work-related reasons during the past year* as a counterweight.  However, it remains a mystery why this is not reflected in the number of work-related visas that have been given to non-EU citizens during the same period, which has only seen a modest increase.”

*ONS International passenger survey (IPS)