Close to half of the skilled EU nationals working in the UK could return home or move to other countries within five years. As many as 1.2 million foreign workers from around the globe are considering leaving Britain, a new report suggests. 36% of foreign workers based in the UK are thinking about leaving the country by 2022, while 26% could move by 2020. If those survey figures were extrapolated to the 3.4 million non-British workers in the country, then 1.2 million foreigners working here are considering moving in the next five years.
When it comes to skilled workers — those in jobs that require specific skills or training — the proportion of workers considering a move jumps to 47%. Not only are skilled workers more likely to leave, they are also the “most likely to leave first,” according to the report. This could create short-term challenges. Overseas workers, especially those from the EU, 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. However, the UK still remains one of the most attractive countries for foreign workers to come to, with 89% of survey respondents saying they see the country as either “quite” or “highly” attractive to work in. The UK beat out places like the USA, Canada, and Australia in terms of desirability.
The new report comes the day after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a new set of proposals for EU nationals living in Britain after Brexit.
The prime minister told the House of Commons on Monday that all European citizens living in the UK before the date that Britain leaves will be able to apply for “settled status” to remain living and working here, as long as British citizens living in the EU are granted the same rights. Under the plans, EU citizens must have been living continuously in the UK for at least five years before an unspecified cut-off date in order to qualify.