A sector specific look at the issue of EU migration post-Brexit
The Prime Minister has made it clear that once the UK leaves the EU, the general principle is that free movement will end once and for all. Although there has been an announcement recently that a pilot scheme will be rolled out in the agricultural sector it seems that this will be the exception rather than the rule. Indeed Theresa May has explicitly confirmed that there is no intention to make lots of exceptions to the general principle that free movement will end.
In a recent article, the BBC analyses how dependent various sectors are on EU migrants. What is clear is that many sectors rely on a significant proportion of unskilled labour from the EU and are likely to be adversely affected by the government’s proposals to prioritise “high skilled” workers after Brexit.
Sectors such as food and drink manufacturing are likely to be hardest hit by the proposals given that in 2016, one quarter of this sector’s staff were made up by EEA workers. The work carried out by staff in this sector is unlikely to constitute the “high skilled” work which the government may choose to prioritise.
The Confederation of British Industry and the British Retail Consortium have criticised the government’s plans to restrict access to low skilled workers. These organisations highlight the fact that such workers are vital to the UK economy and that the government should be focusing on the economy’s needs rather than an “arbitrary” line based on salary level or skills.
We continue to watch this space.