Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

REC response to ONS migration figures

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that migration for work has continued to decrease since the year ending June 2016. This underlines the need for the UK’s immigration policy to be open, managed and evidence-based, allowing employers to hire overseas staff to fill vital vacancies.

The number of EU citizens arriving for work has fallen to 90,000 in the year ending June 2019 – the lowest since 2012. The number of EU citizens arriving looking for a job has dropped to just 22,000, compared to the peak of 82,000 three years earlier. Meanwhile, non-EU migration for work has been rising steadily since 2014.

Sophie Wingfield, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, said:

“Today’s official figures show worrying trends in migration for work continuing. Our data has consistently shown a serious shortage of UK workers in many sectors, ranging from healthcare and engineering to hospitality and agriculture, and this has been getting worse since 2013. Meanwhile, the UK is becoming a less attractive destination for workers from overseas. Employers and recruiters need to be able to attract migrant workers to fill these vital roles. It is essential that we build a post-Brexit immigration system which is evidence-based and works for business, workers and the economy.

“This system must also include a salary threshold lowered to £20,000, and a temporary route for all skill levels. Any temporary visa should be held by the worker, not the employer, and be affordable to people in lower-paid work. An immigration system which only allows for the “best and brightest” or excludes flexible workers would seriously affect employers’ ability to hire the staff they need.”