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Skills crisis heightens as Brexit confusion bites

Simon Blockley

Businesses are struggling to access the skills they need to thrive, with 39 percent of hiring managers finding that uncertainty around Brexit has directly impacted access to talent. That is according to a survey of 1,500 UK-based hiring managers. Contributor Simon Blockley, Managing Director, EMEA – Guidant Global.

The survey also revealed that a further 25 percent of respondents anticipate that the UK’s exit from the union will have a negative impact on skills availability in the near future. When quizzed on their ‘wish lists’ for post-Brexit migration policy, 24 percent of those surveyed believed that clarity on immigration rules ‘at the earliest possible opportunity’ was crucial, while a similar number (23 percent) said that retaining free movement of labour within the EEA would be advantageous.

A further 14 percent indicated that highly skilled workers should be prioritised, while 11 percent believed that the current Shortage Occupation List should be reviewed. One in 10, meanwhile, said that salary thresholds for Tier 2 visas should be reconsidered.

Other possible measures to ease a shortfall of skills included: extending the Tier 5 youth mobility scheme to cover shortages in unskilled labour; abolishing the Tier 2 visa cap; and relaxing the Tier 1 entrepreneurship route, which were favoured by 5 percent, 3 percent and 2 percent of respondents respectively.

Commenting on the findings, Simon Blockley, Managing Director, EMEA, at Guidant Global, said: “While Brexit is by no means the only external force influencing skills availability in the UK, as these findings illustrate, its impact is clearly significant.

“It has been widely documented that many UK businesses are finding it increasingly challenging to source the skills they need to prosper – and it is unsurprising that a significant proportion of employers are noting the effects of a slump in net migration from the EU on the ground.

“The current climate of uncertainty around Brexit is concerning on several levels. However, one thing is crystal clear: it is vital that future policy enables UK businesses to access the talent they need to thrive.”

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