LONDON (Reuters) – A fall in the number of European Union applicants for jobs in British factories has become less sharp but manufacturers remain worried about being able to find skilled workers from the bloc after Brexit, according to a report published on Monday.
EEF, a British manufacturers’ organisation, said 17 percent of companies taking part in a survey reported a drop in job applications from people elsewhere in the EU, down from 23 percent a year earlier.
Thirteen percent reported an increase in EU workers leaving their firms, down from 16 percent.
Britain’s decision to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016 has raised concerns among employers in various sectors and at the Bank of England that fewer workers from the bloc will come to the country, compounding a skills shortages.
Official data published last week showed that the number of EU workers in Britain fell for the first time since 2010 in the first three months of this year.
“Skills shortages are endemic in manufacturing and engineering and companies are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to access the skills they need post-Brexit,” Tim Thomas, employment policy director at EEF, said.
Nearly 70 percent of the companies surveyed said they wanted guidance on what Britain’s departure from the EU in March 2019, followed by a 21-month transition period, will mean for employers and their EU employees.
Manufacturers also said they plan to increase training for existing employees and use apprenticeships and graduate recruitment programmes in order to attract and retain staff.
(Reporting by Ana de Liz; Editing by William Schomberg)