Cutting migration into the UK will leave the country facing a “workforce crisis”, according to a new analysis from consultancy Mercer.
Modelling different scenarios after Brexit, the firm found that even keeping net migration at current levels will fail to stem the challenges of the UK's ageing working population.
Reductions in the size of the UK's workforce would be expected to create major challenges for the UK economy, Mercer said, while the increasing age of workers mean that more will be required to spend their income on supporting older citizens.
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But firms can counteract this scenario with investment into increasing productivity, automation and sectors of society under-represented in the workforce.
Mercer partner Gary Simmons said: “There is a tremendous opportunity for far-sighted organisations to begin determining and implementing clear plans in response.
“If they do not act now, they could potentially find they do not have their share of the people and skills they need in future.”
Hoping to create a “wake-up call” for both ministers and businesses, the firm created four migration and ageing scenarios, ranging from “no change” to “the Great EU Migration”, the latter of which would see large numbers of EU-born and non-EU born workers leave the UK thanks to an unwelcome social environment.
Because UK-born workers have also left the UK in higher numbers than return since the 1960s, this scenario would see the UK's working population shrink, while the overall population increases.
“The inability of certain sectors of the UK economy to fill roles could be dramatic,” Mercer said.