REC response to ONS migration statistics

Filed under Press release

Thursday, 28 November 2019

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.”


Notes to editors:

  1. The full ONS migration statistics quarterly report can be found here.
  2. The REC 2019 election manifesto is available here
  3. 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.

For more information, contact the REC Press Office on 020 7009 2157/2192 or Outside of regular office hours, please call 07702 568 829.

Click here to view all REC press releases.

The REC is the voice of the recruitment industry, speaking up for great recruiters. We drive standards and empower recruitment businesses to build better futures for their candidates and themselves. We are champions of an industry which is fundamental to the strength of the UK economy.
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