More than half of skilled workers may leave UK before Brexit, research suggests

William Turvill
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The UK voted to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016 (Source: Getty)

More than half of skilled EU workers at large UK companies may be thinking about leaving the country before Brexit, new research out today suggests.

Some 55 per cent have not been offered Brexit-related support by their employers, according to Baker McKenzie.

For the research, the law firm surveyed 250 EU-27 nationals educated to degree level or beyond working for companies in the FTSE 250 or with a revenue of more than £50m.

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Some 56 per cent of the participants said they were “highly likely” or “quite likely” to leave the UK before the outcome of the Brexit negotiations in known. The figure was 43 per cent in financial services.

The report has been released at a time when the City is sensing Brexit may turn out to be “softer” than previously thought, with Theresa May’s Conservatives having failed to win a majority at the General Election.

“Last week’s election result and the current uncertainty around the immigration status of EU nationals, underlines the need for all employers – especially those reliant on EU workers – to address their employees’ concerns around Brexit as a priority,” said Baker McKenzie employment partner Stephen Ratcliffe.

“Companies should also be taking steps now to develop talent and support and incentivise talented employees to stay within the business or they could face a significant skills shortage in the near future. This could be further compounded should there be delays to negotiations with the EU.”

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The survey found that 70 per cent felt they were “more vulnerable to discrimination since the EU referendum”. And 55 per cent said they had not been offered employer support over Brexit.

Ratcliffe added: “Employers who are reliant on EU workers should be taking active steps to engage with their employees on the subject of Brexit, and to offer them support and assistance to address areas of uncertainty for them and their families.

“Failure to do so could result in a significant skills drain for businesses in the near term, regardless of the Brexit deal reached.”

Not all sectors are experiencing the same problems, however. Gerard Grech, chief executive of Tech City, said:

The figures do not reflect our experience at Tech City UK. In the last six months, we have seen record numbers of people apply for our Tech Nation Visas for skilled tech workers.

We must also remember that the tech sector is in a strong position with record levels of investment from overseas, significant new fundraisings from venture capital investors and huge interest in tech from the corporate sector.

We expect to work closely with the new government to build on these achievements so that the sector can continue to maintain its position as the strongest in Europe, creating successful new companies that provide highly skilled and well paid jobs right across the country.

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