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16 May 2016

UK employers rely heavily on EU workers, study finds

A new think-tank study has revealed that employees from the EU make up a significant part of the UK workforce – 1.6 million in fact – the OnRec website reports.

According to research conducted by the Social Market Foundation (SMF), along with the Adecco Group UK & Ireland, employers in the UK are heavily reliant on EU employees. The findings come ahead of the EU referendum on the UK´s membership within the EU on 23 June 2016, which is likely to impact the UK´s access to EU workers.

Employers in Britain are currently authorised to employ citizens from within the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland; as well as countries that are in the EU, the EEA also includes Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.

The research drew analysis from the Labour Force Survey 2015, the largest ever household survey of employment in the UK, and explores the type and extent of recruitment from the EEA and Switzerland – particularly within London, the private sector and the manufacturing sector.

In addition to the finding that EU workers make up 6% (1.6 million) of all UK employees, the research found that they are mostly prevalent in sectors such as manufacturing (10% of employees), accommodation (14%) and food services (14%).

On average, EU employees are educated to a higher level than those born in the UK, with 42% of EU employees being educated past the age of 21, compared with just 24% of UK employees. They also have a higher employment rate among working-age adults (80% compared to 75% in the UK) and are more likely to work full-time hours (79% compared to 70%).

As might be expected, the majority of employees take up elementary roles that require no formal qualifications, such as cleaners, labourers and shelf-fillers (14%), or those operating plants or machines (13%). However, they also account for 5% of all professional, managerial and directorial positions.

Commenting on the findings, Adam Hawkins - Adecco Group UK & Ireland´s managing director – said that they raised “serious concerns about the potential impact of the ‘Brexit´.”

“Any change to the UK´s relationship with the EU could hinder UK businesses ability to attract the workforce needed for our industries,” he added.

Copyright © M2 Bespoke 2016

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