Responding to official migration statistics, showing a year-on-year decline in net migration to September 2017, Tej Parikh, Senior Economist at the Institute of Directors, said:
“The decline in long-term migration will compound businesses’ concerns over their access to labour at a time when the labour market is particularly strained.
“Today’s data show that annual net migration to September 2017 fell by 29,000 to 244,000 compared with the year before. Some of this has been driven by a decline in the number of EU citizens coming in search of work, as well as a pick-up in the number of people from the bloc leaving the UK. With vacancies at an all-time high and unemployment at a historic low, companies are scrambling for shrinking pool of talent.
“This will bite SMEs the hardest, who lack the capacity to navigate the bureaucratic visa process in order to attract the workers they need. The Government must help businesses retain access to the human resources they need through migration and skills reform. The Tier 2 visa limit has now been maxed out for the third consecutive month, with NHS workers, teachers and care workers lumped in with private sector employees. As British Future have argued today, Ministers must look at a more sophisticated approach that takes account of the skills both public services and the economy need. The Home Office must also do more to streamline its visa application processes, while the apprenticeship system needs to be made more flexible to give businesses access to the people they require today.
“With Cabinet ministers meeting at Chequers today to discuss the UK’s future relationship with the EU, they must also make sure one of their immediate priorities is to reassure EU citizens about their status, to halt the outflow of skills.”