The Brexit exodus is threatening to derail the British economy as vital industries struggle to fill vacancies.
Net migration fell to its lowest level in three years according to the latest statistics, driven by a sharp increase in the number of eastern Europeans leaving in the wake of Brexit.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics have been welcomed by the Tories and will appease the many voters who voted for Brexit because of the levels of immigration.
But they come as a worrying sign to industry.
According to Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, the millions of pounds spend encouraging tourists to visit Britain could be flushed away if ministers don’t adopt a welcoming tone towards migrant workers.
Speaking to The Independent she referenced a record year for tourism to the UK with 37 million visiting the country as the pound plunged. But many hotels, restaurants and bars are already finding it tough to recruit the EU nationals that make up a large proportion of the industry’s 4.9 million workers.
The lack of available workers also threatens to derail Britain’s agriculture industries where migrants are heavily relied on to fill seasonal vacancies. John Hardman who runs HOPS Labour Solutions said his firm hasn’t struggled to find willing hands in 14 years, but in the July to September following the referendum the flow of migrants from Eastern Europe into the fields of East Anglia, Kent and the Midlands slowed, leaving him with 400 positions left unfilled.
According to REED, one of the UK’s biggest recruitment agencies, vacancies have hit record levels. Spokesperson James Reed said: “With high employment and such a large number of opportunities on offer, the UK jobs market has turned into a seller’s market.”
“If candidates from the EU are put off from applying for jobs in the UK due to Brexit, then the scales could tip even further.”
Meanwhile in Germany, which has an open-door policy to refugees, manufacturing results have soared. According to the composite purchasing managers’ index compiled by IHS Markit the expansion of industry reached an almost six-year high with German manufacturers reporting expansion at an astonishing 69-month high with the sector’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rising to 57 points.