UK companies complain about labor shortage due to Brexit and pandemic | Voice of America

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Since Britain voted five years ago to break with the European Union, there has been an exodus of workers from the EU from the country, which has accelerated since the pandemic struck, according to the reports. UK government figures.

Many of the more than one million EU citizens who have left have traveled to Germany and the Netherlands, leaving UK businesses hit by the coronavirus desperately short of manpower and complaining that they are not not be able to fill the vacancies just as Britain plans to lift its remaining pandemic restrictions and hopes of a V-shaped economic recovery on July 19.

The country’s hospitality industry, which relies heavily on foreign labor, has been one of the hardest hit by staff shortages.

Last month, several restaurants in the Lake District of north-west England, an idyllic tourist spot whose businesses hope to benefit from an influx of so-called “stay-at-home” tourists unable to fly on holiday to the Lake District. foreigners, announced their closure due to understaffing, including Little Italy in the town of Kendal.

“It was a very successful restaurant, but I just can’t staff the staff,” Richard Berry, the owner, told the local newspaper, The Westmorland Gazette. “We have gone to the bare minimum with very good quality staff and it is almost impossible to get new staff when people leave,” he added.

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Some UK companies are considering relocating fully or partially to mainland Europe, saying they fear for their prospects if they don’t.

The owners of a gingerbread shop in the nearby village of Grasmere echo the complaint, telling local media they spent more than $ 7,000 to advertise four vacancies to no avail. “This is the worst staffing challenge we’ve ever had,” said co-director Joanne Hunter.

UK pubs are also scrambling to recruit staff, prompting the owner of JD Wetherspoons, a chain with nearly 1,000 pubs, to urge the government to allow more migrants from the EU to work in Grande -Brittany. Tim Martin, the chain’s founder and chairman, was a strong supporter of Brexit.

The freight, construction and healthcare sectors are also struggling to fill vacancies, adding to growing alarm from owners and their shareholders who are already trying to limit the economic damage of 15 months of closures and pandemic restrictions.

They urged the ruling conservatives to make it easier to hire workers from EU countries. Under new post-Brexit immigration rules, EU citizens who have not yet settled in Britain are not automatically entitled to work in the country and the new immigration system prioritizes highly skilled workers.

The UK shipping and freight industry has warned Britain is facing a growing delivery crisis due to a shortage of drivers. Industry officials say supermarkets are at risk of eroding supply chains due to labor shortages. Bosses of trucking companies last month urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow them better access to the EU labor market by introducing temporary work visas for heavy truck drivers.

They say the shortfall is partly the result of pandemic delays in testing new drivers and partly the result of at least 15,000 drivers from EU countries not returning to Britain after leaving the last year during the lockdown.

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So far, their request has been rejected. The UK Home Office said in a statement in response to the call that employers should “focus on investing in our national workforce, rather than relying on the workforce. ‘foreign work’. Commercial transport bosses say it won’t help them fill vacancies in the short term.

After meeting with government officials last week, Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said in a press release: “The need for action is clear and urgent. We and many others have provided overwhelming evidence that the shortage is worsening – the situation must be addressed now. “

The RHA estimates the country is short of 60,000 drivers – other industry groups estimate the figure closer to 100,000, with around a third of heavy truck drivers working before the pandemic. Training and reviewing new hires can take several months. The boss of Britain’s biggest supermarket chain, Tesco, says his business is facing a shortage of drivers. Ken Murphy said on a conference call with analysts that Tesco is “working hard” to resolve the issue

Around 5.6 million EU citizens living in Britain before the bloc’s official departure from the bloc last year have applied to settle in the country on terms agreed by London and Brussels in an agreement on the Brexit, according to new data released this month by the UK government.

This is two million more than what the authorities had estimated in the country.

According to Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London and former head of the UK Treasury, the data shows “the importance of EU nationals to the UK economy and labor market”. But in a recently published article, he said: “It is still true that migration from the EU has fallen dramatically since the referendum.

He attributes the exodus to several factors, including legal and psychological ones’ related to uncertainty about the future rights that currently resident EU citizens might enjoy, and to the more general political and social climate, the UK does. being considered more of a hospital destination. for migrants from the EU.

But the pandemic and lockdowns have also, he says, been key drivers of the exodus of at least 1.3 million EU citizens. “For many migrants, especially those from Eastern, Central and South-Eastern Europe and especially those who have recently arrived or have family in the country, the choice would have been to stay here, without work, with less or less. no money, and pay for relatively expensive rented accommodation – or return home to their families, with lower costs and probably less risk of catching COVID, ”he wrote.


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