ONS migration statistics: transition plan urgently needed to protect jobs and British business

Filed under Press release

Thursday, 22 August 2019

A managed Brexit with a transition strategy is urgently needed to protect the rights of EU citizens currently living and working here and to avoid a potential disaster for businesses after Brexit. 

New indicative figures from the ONS, published today, show that for the year ending March 2019, net EU migration has continued to fall to +59,000, while overall immigration for the purpose of work has fallen to 214,000, the lowest levels since 2013. With key sectors like IT, engineering, and healthcare facing acute skills shortages, according to REC’s Report on Jobs, today’s figures raise the question of how businesses and public services will cope after Brexit. 

With just 10 weeks before the Brexit deadline Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced that freedom of movement would end on 1 November in the event of no-deal. This has added to growing uncertainty and unease among businesses and EU employees about the potential impact of no-deal on jobs and society.

Tom Hadley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), said:

"The government must stop posturing and urgently develop a transition plan that ensures EU citizens currently working here feel welcomed and can continue to do so from day 1 after Brexit. It is hard to believe that government continues to leave businesses and EU citizens in the dark, with such little clarity on the biggest questions with just 10 weeks to go.

"Brexit uncertainty, the lack of clarity on what no-deal means for EU citizens working here, coupled with a weak pound, are making the UK less attractive to EU workers. This is hugely concerning given that REC’s jobs data shows that UK employers are already struggling to find candidates to fill essential vacancies.

"For the UK to be have a thriving economy and society, homes need to be built, we need doctors and nurses to run the NHS, and people must be able to access goods and services. This can only be achieved through an evidence-based immigration strategy. The government must act urgently to reassure businesses, EU citizens, and regain confidence in the economy."


Notes to Editors:  

  1. The full overview of the latest ONS migration statistics can be found online here.
  2. The KPMG and REC Report on Jobs is a survey of 400 recruitment and employment consultancies about the labour market, compiled every month by IHS Markit. More information can be found here.
  3. JobsOutlook is a survey of around 600 employers produced by the REC in partnership with ComRes. It features in-depth analysis and insight about employers’ confidence levels, hiring intentions, workforce planning and anticipated candidate shortages. More information can be found here.

Press enquiries:

For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 0207 009 2157/2129 or pressoffice@rec.uk.com. An ISDN line is available for interviews on 0207 021 0584.

Click here to view all REC press releases.

The REC is all about brilliant recruitment, which drives our economy and delivers opportunity to millions. As the voice of the recruitment industry, we champion high standards, speak up for great recruiters, and help them grow. Recruitment is a powerful tool for companies and candidates to build better futures for themselves and a strong economy for the UK. Find out more about the Recruitment & Employment Confederation at www.rec.uk.com.

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