Industry leaders have warned that niche industries in the UK could suffer as a result of staff shortages following Brexit. Logistics and warehouse staff are set to be hit the hardest, as these skilled but low paid roles will fall between the gaps. These industries typically rely on skilled overseas workers with specific training. Unfortunately, these roles are unlikely to pay the required income of £35,000 per year. Without European workers, a range of niche industries is likely to suffer as a result.
While some have called for greater automation in industries like construction, logistics and food manufacturing, this doesn’t provide a solution for the short-term problem of staff shortages. While it might be possible to automate logistical processes, there will be shortages throughout the supply chain. The forklift trucks might be automated, but who is going to maintain the forklift truck battery without the skilled workers required to carry out these essential tasks. Automation can only take us so far.
The government recently claimed to have carried out in-depth, industry-specific studies into a variety of UK sectors to study the potential impact of Brexit. The government later refused to share the findings of these reports. The government the backtracked and claimed that the impact assessments hadn’t been carried out. Experts who have seen the reports have pointed out that much of the findings are already public domain and there is no real analysis of what will happen in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Business owners are naturally concerned about the future, and this fear of a lack of skilled workers after Brexit is causing investment to slow down. According to a survey by CBI, the number of manufacturing companies limited investment plans as a result of low confidence in the workforce is at its highest point in four years.
Keeping freedom of movement for skilled workers, or those with job offers in place is one solution to this problem. It would help to keep net immigration down by ensuring that only those with a job offer can live in the UK. It would also ensure that those moving to the UK would not be accessing public funds. From a business perspective, it would also help to ensure the UK doesn’t face a skills shortage which could drive manufacturing and industries overseas.