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Relocation and automation – answers to immigration curbs?

23 March 2017

UK companies in every business sector will be competing for an ever-reducing pool of overseas workers following Brexit, according to a report from global consultants Mercer. The manufacturing, hotel and catering, and transport sectors – whose workforces currently comprise between a fifth and a third of workers not born in the UK – will be hardest hit, says Mercer’s latest Workforce Monitor. But it also points out that 18 per cent of staff in financial services were not British born. Relocation abroad

Mercer says the upshot will be that some firms will relocate operations abroad or be forced to turn to increased automation. The Workforce Monitor, which analyses 11 different sectors of the UK economy, makes it clear that companies not only face post-Brexit limits on EU workers but also new curbs on recruitment from elsewhere in the world. Gary Simmons, a partner at Mercer, commented, “Since 2013, the UK-born workforce has been declining as people retire and we can see how reliant certain industries are on overseas workers filling the gaps. “The UK is likely to impose more stringent migration controls in the future and this will reduce the number of overseas workers available. While we have focused on 11 industries in this report, the fact is that every company in every sector in the UK will be competing for a reduced pool of available workers. “Problems in one sector will impact on a variety of others, so organizations need to understand the make-up of their workforce, the risks and plan how to address this challenge.” Five core mitigation strategies

According to Mercer, there are five core strategies open to companies to help mitigate the twin impacts of demographic change and migration limits. The first is to ‘buy, build and retain’ staff, while the second is to diversify their employee base to hire those sectors of society that may be under-represented in work. Additional options are automation, the relocation of operations or, more drastically, ceasing business operations in the UK.


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