New figures reveal that the number of EU workers applying for jobs in the UK has fallen to an all time low, decreasing by 99 per cent over this year.

Latest figures published by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) shows the severe drop in the amount of EU workers applying to work in the UK.

Between July and September 2020, National Insurance number registrations to EU nationals fell by 99 per cent, in comparison to this time last year.

Additionally, for non-EU nationals, the National Insurance number registrations also decreased by almost two-thirds (65 per cent).

These figures are likely to be a reflection of the ending of free movement for EU nationals to and from the UK which comes into play from the start of 2021 in addition to the new skills-based immigration system being implemented. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have additionally partially attributed this decrease to COVID-19 although this fall was present before the pandemic.

Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Adviser at the CIPD, said:

This is a staggering fall in registrations, reflecting not just the current restrictions of the pandemic but the fact that the stock of overseas workers in the UK may be falling sharply.

With unemployment set to increase sharply over the next year as more stringent migration restrictions are introduced, it’s inevitable that more overseas workers, especially EU jobseekers, will find it easier to work or seek work in other parts of the EU.

This won’t concern employers too much in the short-term while recruitment activity remains weak. However, the worry is that the combined impact of the apparent exodus of EU workers and the continued, subdued inflow of EU jobseekers in particular will feed into recruitment difficulties in the medium-term.

As a result, the CIPD have called on the Government to increase investment in training and ensure that UK workers have the skills to compensate for the sharp fall in the availability of migrant workers.

Specific industries that are likely to be affected by the lack of EU workers include manufacturing, logistics and construction.

Some institutions have even called for changes to be made to the incoming points-based system. The recommendations for amendments included expanding the shortage occupation list, scrapping the general salary threshold of £25,600 and requiring sponsors to inform migrant workers of their employment rights in a way that is accessible to the worker.

Gerwyn Davies states that potential workers must be given access to training and support:

The good news is that this should force employers to make full use of available UK workers, especially those recently made redundant with relevant skills and up to date experience.

To help tackle these challenges, it’s crucial that the unemployed have sufficient access to training and support so they can develop both technical and core transferable skills to find work in sectors which are likely to face skill or labour shortages as the economy recovers.

Reforming the Apprenticeship Levy into a more flexible training levy would also enable employers to use their levy funds for other forms of accredited training and skills development, as well as apprenticeships, boosting overall workforce skills investment.