The UK is due to leave the EU in six months. There are many questions still unresolved, but one thing is clear. Whatever decisions are made between now and next March, UK employers will face a struggle after Brexit to find low skilled workers to keep their businesses moving.
A new report from the respected Migration Observatory at Oxford University calculates that over half a million EU citizens who currently work in the UK are carrying out low skilled jobs.
Those are jobs that don’t require qualifications gained after the compulsory schooling age. They include 132,000 people in cleaning jobs, 120,000 in basic hospitality businesses like coffee shops, 96,000 in warehousing and 90,000 working in factories.
That’s not all. In lower-middle skilled jobs (that’s those jobs involving some simple training as well as school qualifications), over 80,000 EU citizens currently work in our care services, 74,000 in food processing and 68,000 in shops and stores.
With parts of the UK experiencing virtual ‘full employment’, the Migration Observatory report confirms that current plans to address the likely shortfall of labour with non-EU countries will not be sufficient as the predicted number of EU workers in the UK falls.
But there is a solution closer to home.
We know that 1.36 million UK citizens who are keen to work don’t currently have a job. This might be because they are struggling to find the right job with the right employer, or because their support needs mean they need help to develop the right set of skills to help them secure that job.
Pluss is at the forefront of employment support. They provide specialist support for individuals with health conditions and disabilities to secure the right job with an employer who feels confident that they have recruited a great employee. Pluss’ conviction is that most people, with the right support, can be helped to realise their potential in work, and can make a significant contribution to our economy.
We believe that Brexit provides a real opportunity for government to reduce the welfare budget supporting working age people, currently standing at £81bn, by providing the necessary support for many of those 1.36 million Britons who are seeking a helping hand to find work and build a career in post-Brexit Britain.
Steve Hawkins is Chief Executive of Pluss