Managing skills and migration after Brexit

Publication date

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Approval date

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Recommendations intended to help achieve managed and fair migration into the UK after Brexit have been put forward by the manufacturers’ organisation EEF.

In "A new model for migration: Manufacturers’ priorities for a post-Brexit world" (available via, the EEF advances a number of ideas designed to help businesses manage during the UK’s exit from the single market and cope with associated changes to immigration rules.

With manufacturing facing an ongoing skill shortage (the number of hard-to-fill vacancies is currently 35%), firms need long-term access to skilled workers from the EU and elsewhere, the EEF argues.

Some 300,000 EU citizens are currently employed by UK manufacturers — equivalent to about 10% of the workforce.

Three-quarters of manufacturers have struggled to fill skilled engineering posts in the past three years, the EEF points out, with two-thirds saying that there are too few applicants, and almost a third saying that they are not confident they can fill the posts they have available.

To help tackle the problem, the EEF is calling for EU workers who are in the UK at the point of Brexit to retain their rights under existing EU legislation.

Manufacturers should also be able to recruit highly skilled and experienced employees from the EU, where the job is at graduate level, with a salary threshold to be agreed with industry, through a light-touch authorisation process.

They should also be able to recruit intermediate level staff where sufficient candidates are not readily available in the UK, also at salary thresholds agreed with industry.

Finally, the EEF recommends, staff based in the UK should be able to move between this country and other Member States for training purposes with minimal restrictions, and any UK–EU trade deal must allow businesses to send workers abroad for short-term cross-border projects lasting up to two years.