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Skilled workers shortage warning if UK votes to leave EU

The UK's shortage of skilled workers could get worse if Britain leaves the European Union, a leading recruitment firm is warning.

Manpower said employers relied on the free movement of people inside Europe, highlighting figures showing that over 200,000 jobs created in the last year were filled by people across the EU.

The group's managing director, James Hick, said: "Let's be realistic, we simply won't be able to replace overnight the skills these people bring to the UK if we were to leave the EU - and it's our economy that will suffer.

"Unemployment is at its lowest level since 2006. It's unrealistic to suggest there's enough slack in the labour market out there to fill these jobs."

Manpower said some major UK employers have already warned of switching high quality jobs from the UK to other countries in the event of Brexit.

A survey by Manpower of 2,100 employers found that hiring intentions for the coming months were at their strongest level since 2007.

Firms in every region of the UK said they were optimistic about recruitment, especially in London, the South West and Eastern England.

Manpower added that some retail and leisure firms were hiring staff before the new National Living Wage of £7.20 an hour comes into force from next month.

"The National Living Wage will have a huge influence on retailers and leisure companies, and firms are still grappling with how the changes will affect them," added Mr Hick.

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