In the latest Labour Force Survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in February 2020, an estimated 2.31 million EU nationals were working in the UK. That amounts to just over 14% of the UK workforce. With a large number filling temporary or seasonal roles, where does this leave us after new immigration rules come into effect on 31st December?
What to expect from the new immigration system
Whilst we currently have two systems of immigration, one for EU Nationals and one for non-EU nationals, after 11pm on 31st December, we will switch to one points-based system for everyone regardless of nationality. Instead of using nationality as a defining category the system will instead be looking at individual skillsets and job prospects.
The government are offering a skilled work visa for people with an existing job offer in a specific shortage occupation that meets a minimum salary requirement. If those two criteria are met, the individual also needs to prove they can speak English to a required level. However, the government are not offering an immigration category for low skilled workers, stating that ‘employers will need to adjust … [and] move away from a reliance on the UKs immigration system as an alternative to investment in staff retention, productivity and wider investment in technology and automation.’
It is worth noting that those employees from the EU that are residing in the UK before 1st January will be able to stay but may need to make an application to register their status, as well as their family members. The deadline for applying for a settled status closes at the end of June 2021.
What does this mean for employers of 'low-skilled' workers?
Put simply, there will be no route for manufacturers or warehouses to recruit temporary workers on low pay from outside of the settled workforce. With a limited pool of available workers, your job offering needs to be attractive and your recruitment marketing needs to be targeted and engaging.
In the long-term, investment in apprenticeships and training for up-skilling existing employees and filling potential skills gaps is an option worth considering. At Select, we can unburden some of this pressure for you, by taking on your temporary recruitment campaigns. With an in-house marketing team and dedicated recruiters with over 25 years’ experience in the manufacturing industry, we can help you find the workers you need. Please get in touch for more information.
What should me business be doing?
If you haven’t already, you really should be conducting an impact assessment for your business. Think about:
How will your team be affected? Do you employ any EU nationals in the UK or any UK nationals in the EU?
Do you hire a seasonal workforce every year? If so, how will you source these candidates?
Do you or any of your staff travel to the EU on business?
Do European standards govern in your industry, if so, how are these changing?
Do you import or export goods from/to countries in the EU?
There is a lot to think about, but a thorough audit will enable you to make big decisions that will affect your business further down the line. At Select, we have been preparing for Brexit for a long time and the impacts that new immigration rules will have. We are able to provide our clients with a calendar of candidate attraction campaigns to ensure they meet their varying requirements throughout the year. If you would like more information about the temporary and permanent recruitment teams here at Select, please get in touch.