Recruitment for high and medium skilled jobs bolstered by non-EU workers

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The increase in non-EU citizens coming to work in the UK has eased recruitment difficulties for medium and high-skilled roles.

This is according to the CIPD’s and the Adecco Group, a HR provider, latest quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey.

The UK has seen an increase of 123,000 non-EU citizens in the workforce between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, who the majority of have been subject to a skill threshold. This is a large increase when compared to the decrease of 6,000 non-EU citizens in employment in the UK between March 2017 and March 2018.

The survey said this “has been mainly driven by the buoyant recruitment of nurses and medical practitioners, partly following a relaxation to remove doctors and nurses from the Government’s migration cap in June 2018.”

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD, said:

Amidst the current political uncertainty, the UK labour market is holding up surprisingly well. Labour demand remains strong, and the robust supply of non-EU workers has helped many employers meet this demand; partly owing to the Government’s decision to remove the migration cap for doctors and nurses.

This has been key to freeing up visa capacity for employers in other sectors who have sensibly been able to resolve skill shortages by hiring non-EU migrants. Looking ahead, the Government’s post-Brexit immigration policy must demonstrate similar levels of flexibility to ensure that such shortage occupations benefit from a more generous minimum salary threshold.

However, the overall applicants to medium and high-skilled vacancies have dropped by a small amount when compared to the same period last year.

In addition, the number of individuals applying for low-skilled roles have dropped by a fifth over 2019. CIPD and Adecco believe this means that employers could face a significant recruitment challenge in the coming months.

Results also found, that the fall in the amount of applicants has added pay pressure to some employers. Median basic pay expectations in the private sector rose from 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent, compared to the previous three months.

Public sector median basic pay expectations have also increased from 1 per cent to 1.5 per cent. Still, average basic pay increases remain stable at 2 per cent.

Net employment balance, a measure of the difference between the proportion of employers who expect to increase staff levels and those who expect to decrease staff levels, has decreased from +22 to +18. This being the lowest level recorded since 2017. Employment confidence was the highest in Wales at +29 with the lowest being in the East Midlands and the East of England at +7.

Alex Fleming, country head and president of staffing and solutions, at the Adecco Group UK and Ireland, said:

In our tightening labour market ensuring businesses have the right supply of talent isn’t a new issue and during these uncertain times the “grow your own” mentality has become more important than ever for organisations. Workforce planning comes into play again as organisations need to be constantly looking forward and anticipating their future needs and training their own talent accordingly.

Planning ahead for workforce strategies is a long-term solution that now needs to be addressed more urgently than ever so the labour market can thrive with the right talent in place.

Conversely, in the shorter-term imaginative recruitment strategies are also needed to find the right kind of skillsets to bring into organisations, for example unlocking hidden pools of talent can hold considerable value for employers and should be seriously considered as an important source.

The survey asked 2,104 employers what their pay and hiring intentions are.

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