Businesses urged to reassure EU27 staff promptly or risk 'significant skills drain'

More than a third (34 per cent) of multinational employers with operations in the UK are concerned that attracting the right talent will become more difficult post-Brexit, a report released today has found.

The sixth RES Forum Annual Report also discovered organisations fear hiring overseas staff once the UK departs the EU will become excessively complicated, with more than half (58 per cent) believing social security paperwork will become more complex.

Meanwhile, around half (48 per cent) of the businesses surveyed said they felt a high degree of insecurity off the back of the Brexit vote, while roughly a third (32 per cent) of multinationals doubt their preparedness to cope with the changes Brexit will bring.

A separate piece of research by law firm Baker McKenzie, also released today, discovered that more than half (56 per cent) of EU27 workers educated to degree level or higher, from FTSE 250 companies or companies with revenue over £50m, are either highly likely or quite likely to leave the UK before the Brexit negotiations have even finished. Seven out of ten also felt more vulnerable to discrimination since the referendum and 55 per cent had received no Brexit-related support from their employers.

"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," said Stephen Ratcliffe, employment partner at Baker McKenzie. "Failure to do so could result in a significant skills drain for businesses in the near term, regardless of the Brexit deal reached."

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures released last month revealed net migration fell to +248,000 in 2016, down 84,000 compared with 2015 and driven in particular by a rise in emigration from EU citizens. Meanwhile, CIPD research released in February found that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of employers had already seen evidence their EU27 staff members were planning to leave their organisation, or the UK, within the next year.

It has previously been reported that the government is mulling the introduction of special visas to plug talent gaps in so-called low-skilled industries, including a ‘barista visa’ to allow young people to work for two years and a three-year 'brickie visa' for the construction industry.

The RES Forum report also found that different age groups are motivated by different priorities when taking on international assignments. For example, millennials, defined as those born after 1981, were most likely to be influenced by personal drivers. Those in generation X, born between 1964 and 1981, were more likely to be influenced by the expatriation package on offer.

The report said multinational companies are, as a rule of thumb, currently doing a lacklustre job of using data analytics in their global mobility programmes, although they recognise this as an area that will become more important over the next three years.

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