The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is at least two years away but companies in the country are already reporting a shortage of people to fill vacancies, mainly due to uncertainty over Brexit and future rules putting off EU nationals.
The Recruitment & Employment Confederation’s (REC) survey on jobs released on Tuesday showed demand for staff rising sharply across the private sector. Engineering was the most in-demand category for permanent staff in April, closely followed by IT and computing and nursing and medical care.
One of the reasons for many people in Britain voting to leave the 28-member bloc in the June 2016 referendum was EU nationals with the right to free movement across Europe taking up jobs. The EU nationals do not face the same tight visa and work rules applicable to citizens of India and other non-EU countries.
REC chief executive Kevin Green said: “Demand for staff is growing within all sectors and all regions of the UK, but there are fewer and fewer people available to fill the vacancies. We have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005, and people already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty.
“Meanwhile, the weakening pound and lack of clarity about future immigration rules is putting off some EU nationals from taking up roles in the UK. As a result, candidate availability is at a 16-month low and recruiters are flagging a shortage of suitable applicants for more than 60 different roles from cleaner to accountant.”
According to recent official reports, Indian citizens accounted for 57% of total skilled work visas granted (53,548 out of 93,935) among non-EU countries, with US nationals the next largest group (10,019 or 11% of the total).
The UK will hold a mid-term general election, prompted by issues related to Brexit, on June 8.