One-third of foreign workers plan to leave UK

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

One-third of non-UK workers said  they plan to leave the UK within five years
One-third of non-UK workers said they plan to leave the UK within five years

Related tags Europe United kingdom Migrant worker

One-third of foreign workers are considering leaving the UK, with highly-skilled EU workers the most likely to leave, revealed a survey from financial consultancy Deloitte.

Up to 36% of non-British workers in the UK said they were considering leaving the UK in the next five years, claimed Deloitte.

This would be equivalent to nearly 10% (38,000) of the roughly 400,000 people currently employed by the food and drink industry, according to the latest figures from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

More than a quarter (26%) surveyed by Deloitte said they considered leaving the UK in the next three years.

However, the UK ranked as the most desirable place to work by 57% of respondents living outside the country, ahead of the US (30%), Australia (21%) and Canada (19%).

Deloitte North West Europe chief executive David Sproul said that more people were attracted to live and work in UK, despite political and economic uncertainties.

“The UK’s cultural diversity, employment opportunities and quality of life are assets that continue to attract the world’s best and brightest people,”​ he said.

‘Short to medium-term skills deficit’

“But overseas workers tell us they are more likely to leave the UK than before. That points to a short to medium-term skills deficit that can be met in part by upskilling our domestic workforce, but which would also benefit from an immigration system that is attuned to the needs of the economy.”

More than half (58%) of non-UK workers said it would be difficult to find staff in the UK to replace them, with the number rising to 70% among highly-skilled EU workers.

Of the highly-skilled migrant workers, 28% said that parts of their work were likely to be automated in the next 5–10 years.

Vice chairman Angus Knowles-Cutler added: “The UK economy depends on migrant workers to plug gaps in both highly-skilled and lower-skilled jobs. If immigration and upskilling can help fill higher skill roles, automation can help to reduce reliance in lower skill positions. 

‘A golden opportunity’

“This will require careful consideration region by region and sector by sector, but there is a golden opportunity for UK workers and UK productivity if we get it right.”

The FDF’s members reported that their EU employees felt unwanted and uncomfortable in a survey at the end of last year.

An FDF spokesman said: “One in 12 manufacturers with EU employees told us that some of their valued workers had said they were planning to leave the UK.

“Our members have also stated that they’re having difficulty recruiting EU nationals for certain roles. These employees are vital to keeping the UK fed and if you can’t feed a country, you haven’t got a country.”

Meanwhile, demand for staff has risen to its highest level in 21 months, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), as EU workers are “leaving in their droves”.

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