The number of migrant workers living in UK, mainly engaged in low-skilled jobs, has dropped due to Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. Recruitment agencies in the North of England, which are a bridge between employers and migrant workers from Eastern Europe, have reported a reduction in manpower. These people are usually hired for low wages in jobs that require fewer skills. But studies show that immigrants are looking for better jobs, so they have returned to their home countries.
Workers Who Left the UK Forever
Following the continued aftershocks of Brexit, the UK has limited contact with other European governments now and travel to this destination is declining. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released a report that confirms the claims of employers and marketing companies. The centre wrote in its report that the unprecedented migration of foreign workers and workers not born in the UK was on the rise.
Most foreign workers who lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic preferred to return to their homeland instead of waiting for re-employment. The city of London, where one in five immigrants live, is experiencing the decline more than any other part of the UK. Surveys show that London’s population has shrunk by 700,000, and that the drop in immigration could be as much as 1.4 million across the UK.
The Highest Population Decline Since World War II
Based on estimates, it can be argued that the UK is experiencing the highest population decline since World War II. There is also no evidence that Britons living in other countries have returned to their homeland during the Covid-19 outbreak. The migration of foreign workers may be temporary, and they may return to UK once the pandemic has subsided. Under stricter immigration laws, EU citizens will need a work visa to return to work in the UK, unless they are granted a residence permit.
Low Wages Are the Main Reason for Labour Migration
After the UK gained access to sustainable employment markets in 2004, many Eastern Europeans entered the country for employment purposes and obtained permanent residency permits. A simple look at the law shows that these people can return to the host country, but for personal reasons, they prefer to stay in their own country.
According to a labour activist, all the workers who left the country are expected to return once they are re-employed. This is wishful thinking, but impossible to realize. Low wages are the most important reason for this. Experts believe that only one major event can bring migrant workers back. It is possible that some workers now have better living conditions than they did during their stay in the UK. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for them to return to their host country.
Factors Influencing Labour Migration from the UK
Certainly, factors such as changes in the immigration system, Covid-19 and Brexit, are involved in reducing the migrant workforce, said Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, which provides impartial analysis of migration in the UK. It is an indisputable fact that Covid threatens the lives of migrant workers in the country; the choice and lack of reliable information have also gone hand in hand to send workers home.
What Do Employers and Employment Agencies Think?
British companies are raising wages more rapidly to overcome difficulties in attracting staff, adding to upward pressures on inflation as pandemic restrictions ease. Increases in starting salaries reached a seven-year high, with all regions of the UK experiencing rapid rises, according to data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, KPMG and IHS Markit. The jobs website said hospitality companies in particular were raising wages, with some offering sign-on bonuses to entice workers. “We are seeing a wage inflation directly linked to demand,” said Niki Turner-Harding, senior vice president of the recruitment firm Adecco UK and Ireland. She said those hiring many people quickly find that raising pay is the “only option.” The findings add to concerns that the rapid re-opening of the economy will lift price pressures and prompt the Bank of England to rein in its stimulus programme. The government’s Office for Budget Responsibility is also concerned that longer-term labour shortages may inflict scars on the economy, both from Covid-19 and lower levels of immigration following UK’s exit from the EU.
Andrew Hunter, a co-founder of the job search engine, said: “There is hot competition for staff, with many hospitality and retail workers having left the industry to look for more secure work after the ups and downs of the last year. There are also far fewer foreign workers seeking employment in the UK, with overseas interest in UK jobs more than halving from before the pandemic, hitting these industries hard. UK employers can no longer rely on overseas workers to plug employment gaps.”
Labour Shortages Hamper UK’s Economic Recovery
There is clear evidence of a shortage of labour in the UK at a time when US employers are also trying to hire workers. But jobseekers are working in restaurants due to low wages, security concerns and customer disgust with the safety measures of Covid-19 service jobs are not a priority.
The Secretaries of employers’ unions have warned that a shortage of foreign workers after the restrictions were lifted will hamper the UK’s economic recovery as some 1.3 million workers have returned home since early last year to spend the pandemic at home.
It is thought that the decline in immigration to the UK is due to the limitations caused by the Covid-19 outbreak, but the real cause must be sought elsewhere, and the effects will be felt long after. Experts say it is difficult to predict how the current situation will unfold; many companies will face significant problems with shortages of unskilled labour and services, and this situation is expected to continue.