Has Brexit created skills shortages?

5 Minutes

We don’t have to look far to see the effects of Brexit on several industries in the UK. One of these has been the shortage of skills in industries such as hospitality, construction and transport. However, the rise of the pandemic, lockdown restrictions and many workers going on furlough also had a part to play in skills shortages.

Affected sectors

One of the most affected industries is the hospitality sector. Its inability to secure European staff to run restaurants, hotels and bars has led to the closure of many businesses in this sector. Hospitality has lost almost 300,000 staff since March 2020 who travelled back to their countries. One in five people has left the sector since the pandemic. Yet, despite the effects of lockdown measures, this industry has been struggling for several years. As indicated by the Office of National Statistics, the shortages of staff have increased by 12.1% since 2019.

Furthermore, the construction sector has faced challenges to fill vacancies with highly skilled workers. This has caused a lack of balance between the increased demand for house building and infrastructure projects with skills available domestically. Once again, Brexit has a role to play in this matter. Decreasing access to skilled European workers has been critical during these times.

The transport industry is also facing similar challenges. The current national shortage of delivery drivers has caused transport delays and stock to pile up. These setbacks have affected both businesses and the public sector with increased delivery costs and empty shelves in food stores.

So far, increasing drivers' salaries has been helpful for this industry. Before the pandemic, delivery drivers earned around £32,000 per year. Today, drivers hired through agencies can expect to earn around £40,000 per year.

Is Brexit to blame?

From the analysis above, it is evident that the pandemic and furlough has had an impact in reducing the hiring rates in these industries. Approximately 1.3 million European and Non-British nationals left the UK at the height of the pandemic. Yet, the current loss of foreign workers which provided greater flexibility has impacted the British economy. Increasing salaries has worked for industries such as transport. However, sectors in hospitality or health care cannot afford the same luxuries. Therefore, many workers are calling for the government to find solutions to the loss of skilled workers and overturn the British economy.

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