Wednesday 30 June 2021 3:55 pm

EU nationals leaving the UK is driving worker shortage, says Homeserve CEO

There is a shortage of skilled workers because of EU workers leaving the UK, the boss of home repair company Homeserve said today.

As well as in construction, staff shortages have been seen hospitality, HGV driving and in meat processing as a combination of Brexit and Covid-19 has prompted EU migrants to leave the UK.

Homeserve chief executive Richard Harpin told BBC Radio Four he believed the shortages were being caused by “mainly EU migrant workers going home,” adding that it was “really important that we find a way to get them back” in order to cope with “massive demand” for work.

Harpin wants the government to put more trades on its jobs shortage list, and a longer-term plan from the government to get more school leavers to take up apprenticeships, rather than going to university.

“What we are asking for on the points system is that these skilled trades get enough points so they [the EU workers] can come back,” he said.

“Currently, if you’re an IT analyst, a vet or a graphic designer you can come back to UK, but it doesn’t include bathroom fitters, kitchen installers, fencers, tree surgeons, locksmiths. There’s a very long list.”

Staff shortages have been seen in various sectors, particularly in driving and in hospitality.

Last weekend logistics chiefs called on the prime minister to personally intervene to allow access to European labour by introducing temporary worker visas for HGV drivers and adding them to a “shortage occupation list”.

“Supermarkets are already reporting that they are not receiving their expected food stocks and, as a result, there is considerable wastage,” said Richard Burnett, the chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, which coordinated the letter.

The letter warned government intervention was the only way to avoid “critical supply chains failing at an unprecedented and unimaginable level”.

A government spokesperson said the industry should look to hire local workers instead due to the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.

The haulage industry was one of the most vocal sectors in the run-up to Britain’s departure from the EU, warning that lorry drivers would not want to come to the UK if checks and friction increased at the border.

The problem has been compounded by the pandemic after many EU drivers returned to their home countries.