Written by: Keith Tully
Published: 28th June 2017
As many as 1.2 million workers could leave the UK over the course of the next five years as the Brexit process unfolds.
Departures close to that scale would give businesses throughout the country cause for concern and could leave many facing significant shortages of staff and skills.
Research carried out recently by the business advisory firm Deloitte found that roughly a third (36 per cent) of all the non-British workers currently based in the UK are considering leaving the country in the next five years.
A report linked to the research suggests that while Britain remains an appealing place to work for a great many people from across Europe, the result of the 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) has changed attitudes.
Highly-skilled workers from EU countries were among those found by Deloitte to be most likely to consider leaving the UK before 2022, with 47 per cent in that bracket indicating that they may move abroad at some stage during the next five years.
Among those skilled workers who are considering whether or not to leave the UK, a third said that a greater degree of positivity from the British government about their status and situation might encourage them to remain.
“The uncertainty started ticking a year ago, at the time of the EU referendum result,” said Angus Knowles-Cutler, from Deloitte.
“At times of uncertainty, skilled workers are quickest to get their CVs out. You can’t necessarily expect all the best and brightest to wait around for another few years of uncertainty.”
Deloitte’s experts have said that the departure of many thousands of EU nationals from the UK workforce will create skills and talent supply issues for British businesses and suggested that a greater focus on automation could be part of the solution.
“Automation is beginning to transform the world of work,” said Mr Knowles-Cutler.
“Brexit does not change the fundamental factors shaping this but has altered calculations on how to drive change for best advantage.
“If immigration and upskilling can help fill higher-skill roles, automation can help to reduce reliance in lower-skill positions.”