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The effect of Brexit on overseas workers

Despite the fact
bookmakers such as Paddy Power will no doubt be offering rather tempting odds
on an apocalyptic-style meltdown following the outcome of Brexit, it seems
unlikely that even a crystal ball would even be able to provide an accurate
prediction. One accepted impact, however, is the significant hit the workforce
is going to take…

The UK’s approximate population
currently stands at 67 million, with Poland representing the largest EU
nationality group. 17 per cent of the people employed in the UK were born
abroad and considering 3.7 million people living in the UK were born within the
EU, the impacts are going to be stark. That said, which industries are going to
suffer the most, with a diminished work force following Brexit.

After Brexit hits, seven
in ten EU workers are expected to be lost and despite, what leading Brexiteer
Jacob Rees-Mogg has argued regarding the mechanisation will keep us ticking, it
appears the void will struggle to be filled. The Tory backbencher, one of the
more prominent figures throughout the course of negotiations, pointed to the
likes of self-service checkouts in supermarkets as a form of mechanisation
which will enhance efficiency post-Brexit.

With the help of Lookers,
who stock the Ford Transit Custom, we take a look at the sectors due to
experience the bite.


The motor vehicle
industry in the UK is a worth approximately £82 billion — a little more than a
drop ocean. Making up 13 per cent of Britain’s annual exports, more than
800,000 people are employed in this sector. Although the workforce isn’t as
heavily dominated by EU nationals as other industries, it is still set to feel
the effects. Some manufacturers invest more in immigrant workers than others,
for example.

A KPMG report laid out
details that Vauxhall, based in Luton, regularly drafts in staff from its Opel
base in Poland, while BMW called upon the help of 150 EU nationals to help
develop one of their new models. John Neill, the Chief Executive of Unipart,
detailed his fears that: “hard-line Brexiteers are in danger of destroying the
British car industry”.

It isn’t just the jobs
of EU nationals that are at risk however, as Ralf Speth argued. Speth, the CEO
of JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) told the British Government Brexit could result in
the manufacturer levying £1.2 billion in tariffs per year, placing thousands of
jobs at risk.


One industry in the UK
that is virtually dependent upon European nationals is fruit picking. Back in
2018, the Independent ran an article charting the drastic lack of British
workers on farms in the UK. Speaking to recruitment company Concordia, the
publication discovered that the recruiters, who assist more than 200 farms with
employees, had received only two applications from Brits, out of more than
10,000 total applications.

There are more than
60,000 seasonal workers in total in the UK, but chief executive of the Berry
Gardens Growers Cooperative, Jacqui Green, reported that throughout 2018 there
was a 30-40 per cent decrease in labour. The vast majority of workers carrying
out the role are from either Bulgaria or Romania, with Concordia’s chief
executive, Stephanie Maurel explaining that Brits don’t want to do the job because
of: “early hours, long days, and lack of affordable transport”.


The staffing crisis
within the NHS is by no means a revelation. News outlets, think tanks, and the
health service have been voicing their concerns for years regarding a serious
lack in staff. However, estimates propose that an additional 51,000 nurses will
be required after 2021. With eight per cent of nursing staff in the UK being EU
nationals, it should come as no surprise that Brexit poses serious a risk to
the future of the NHS.

The Nuffield Trust’
chief executive, Nigel Edwards, voiced his concerns and commented how Brexit
could prove troubling to healthcare as a whole. For example, social care is
facing a gap of 70,000 workers by the year 2025. A report by the National
Institute of Economic and Social Research noted that the number of EU workers
joining the NHS after the EU referendum had fallen by 17.6 per cent. The cost
associated with alleviating the pressure on the NHS estimated at £900m,
including introducing more workers and training them.


Some of the most
severe impacts regarding the workforce will be felt within the hospitality
industry however.  It is expected that
60,000 workers will be lost every year. This is a significant amount, considering that 700,000 of the 4.5m strong
workforce within the industry as a whole are from the EU. On average, the
number of EU workers in a hotel in the UK is between 12.5 and 25 per cent
however, in some cases its between 35 and 40 per cent.

Harry Murray, who is
the president of hotel association HOSPA, suggests despite the fact the figures
make for concerning reading, this presents an opportunity for British workers.
In particular, it would be an opportunity for those aged over 55 interested in
re-entering the workforce. Murray, who has worked in the industry for more than
50 years, suggests that those in that demographic could be offered vocational
training, helping plug the inevitable gap in the market. He notes: “Our biggest challenge now is to attract
people to join the industry”.

European nationals and
overseas workers play a major role in almost every industry here in the UK. For
this reason, Brexit is sure to have an impact. But accurately predicting the
course of the events is near impossible.