FSB: Small Business Worried about Post Brexit Staffing
Over half of small businesses with EU workers are worried about accessing people with the right skills (59%), or growing their business (54%) post-Brexit, according to new research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).
FSB’s latest report, ‘A skilful exit: What small firms want from Brexit’, shows one fifth (21%) of small employers currently have EU staff. Nearly three quarters (72%) of these small firms recruited all of their EU workers when they were already living in the UK. And the vast majority of small firms (95%) have no experience using the UK’s points-based immigration system to recruit non-EU workers.
The research highlights the need for small firms to have continued access to labour and skills from the EU post-Brexit. It finds that small businesses with EU workers mainly employ mid-skilled staff (47%), such as care and construction workers, mechanics and office managers.
FSB calls on the UK Government to guarantee, as soon as possible, the right to remain for EU citizens in the workforce. It also finds small firms, on average, want a transition period of more than three years after the UK exits the EU to meet their jobs needs.
Janet Jones, FSB Wales Policy Unit Chair, said: “There is real concern among small firms with EU staff that they will lose access to the skills and labour their business needs to survive and grow. EU workers are a vital part of our economy, helping to plug chronic skills gaps across a wide range of sectors, and filling jobs in an already tight labour market. Small employers need to be able to hire the right person, for the right job at the right time.
“Securing the right to remain for EU workers in the UK must be a priority. It’s also crucial small firms are given time after the UK leaves the EU to prepare for the new immigration arrangements. There can’t be a sudden cliff edge preventing small firms from accessing the workers they need. This means having sensible transitional arrangements first, followed by the phased implementation of a new immigration system.
“Our research also shows that a significant number of small firms will rely on investing in training and skills to resolve recruitment barriers, particularly those with mid-skill requirements. Getting the Welsh Government’s apprenticeship programme right for SMEs will therefore be essential if Wales’ smaller businesses are to attract and train talent locally.”
Peter James, Managing Director of Cintec International, said: “Cintec International Ltd is owned by me and I have stand-alone companies in Canada, America, a branch office in India and a partnership in Australia, together with numerous agents throughout the world representing the company. I have a number of very excellent employees from Europe but do not believe that they want to return home after Brexit and there should be provision for them to stay in the UK after the event.”