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UK employers have 'significant' reliance on EU workers, study shows

Published 03/05/2016

There are currently 1.6 million EU workers employed in the public or private sectors
There are currently 1.6 million EU workers employed in the public or private sectors

UK employers have a "significant" reliance on workers from the European Union, especially in manufacturing, accommodation and food services, a new study has shown.

EU employees are generally educated to a higher level than UK-born staff, with only 15% having left formal education before the age of 17 compared with 44% of those born in this country, it was found.

EU employees represent 5% of occupations such as managers, directors and professionals, although high numbers also work in jobs requiring no formal qualifications such as cleaners and shelf-fillers, according to research by the Social Market Foundation and Adecco.

There are currently 1.6 million EU workers employed in the public or private sectors, making up 6% of all UK employees, said the report.

Adam Hawkins, managing director of the Adecco Group, said: " This research raises serious questions about the potential impact of Brexit.

"With 1.6 million EU workers currently working in the UK, making up 6% of all UK employees, thousands of businesses could be left in limbo for years following a vote to leave.

"Uncertainty is bad for business, particularly those looking to hire and invest in the future. The recruitment industry has seen a significant slowdown in the number of businesses looking to hire permanent staff as we draw nearer to the referendum.

"Any change to the UK's relationship with the EU could hinder UK businesses' ability to attract the workforce needed for our industries."

Nigel Keohane, director of research at the Social Market Foundation, said: " This new research shows the extent to which UK organisations employ workers from the EU."

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