Brexit may not yet have happened but already it’s having an impact on the hospitality industry with hotels, bars and restaurants struggling to recruit staff, according to a new report.
For many employers in urban areas, being unable to find the right staff means having to pay higher wages.
For those in more remote locations, or those unable to add to their wage bill, it means having to do without additional staff, adding to the burden of the existing workforce or withdrawing the service.
In more extreme cases, it could mean going out of business and, for everyone, that’s bad news.
Without wishing to scaremonger, or to add to Project Fear, it seems Brexit is already having a real impact on people’s lives.
The CIPD report, based on research with more than 1000 employers, said vacancies are becoming harder to fill because of a staff shortage among non-EU as well as EU migrants.
The number of non-UK-born workers in the UK between April and June was 58,000 down on the same period last year, 40,000 of whom were non-EU-born workers. This compares with an increase of 263,000 for the same period between 2016 and 2017.
Researchers believe the figures show that non-EU migrant workers are as reluctant to use the post-Brexit immigration system as those from EU states.
They say that without making the system simpler, fairer and more affordable, we’ll see a tighter labour market.
That would lead to heightened recruitment difficulties, higher workloads and loss of business or orders for companies.
Whether you voted Leave or Remain in the 2016 referendum this is worrying. Many people justifiably wanted to see tighter controls on immigration to avoid further pressure on public services and further wage deflation caused by the arrival of large numbers of poorer migrants.
It’s reasonable to argue we should be able to recruit from abroad to fill those jobs for which we lack the necessary skills.
But most political decisions, especially those on this scale, have unintended consequences and in this case, the inescapable truth is that, with employment at a 40-year high, we don’t have the numbers to fill all the vacancies that exist.
According to the CIPD report, the labour supply is expected to be further constrained from 2021, when migration restrictions on EU citizens are introduced.
The main route for recruiting EU citizens, recently proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee, will not be enough to meet recruitment needs.
The CIPD says a third of employers fear the administrative burden of extending the current points-based system for non-EU migrants to EU citizens from 2021 will be too great.
Like everything else surrounding Brexit, it seems things are a lot more complicated than many people imagined they’d be.