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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Reaction to ONS migration statistics, August 2020

Press releases

The ONS has released its latest migration figures for year ending March 2020. They show that increases in net migration and immigration are being driven by an increase in non-EU immigration for study. Immigration to the UK for work reasons remains well below its peak in mid-2016, and the number of EU citizens coming to the UK for work is at its lowest level since 2004.

Kate Shoesmith, Director of Sales and Marketing at the REC, said:

“It’s vital that employers have access to the skills they need to grow and adapt to the new normal. Although it is likely that more people will be looking for new jobs, many will not immediately have the skills to fill these roles. So it’s worrying that the number of people were coming to work in the UK was low, even before the pandemic. Firms need to know that the new immigration system will be flexible enough to be help fix the skills shortages affecting the construction, IT and social care sectors in the short term – or we risk stalling the economic recovery.
“Alongside a functioning immigration system we need the investment to retrain and upskill the increasing numbers of recently unemployed. For example, a flexible Apprenticeship Levy would help people get the qualifications to become the LGV drivers and social care workers that our data tells us are in demand.”


Notes to editors:

  1. The full ONS migration statistics quarterly report for the year ending March 2020 can be found here.
  2. The REC’s Jobs Recovery Tracker found that there were a total of 1.10 million job postings in the UK in the week of 3-9 August, a new post-lockdown high. There has been a notable rise in adverts for roles including LGV drivers and skilled construction workers in recent weeks.

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