Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who employ workers from different parts of the European Union are worried about the potential skills gap they’ll be left with after the UK departs from the EU.
That’s according to a poll by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which suggests that a majority (59%) of British SMEs with EU workers are concerned that they might struggle to recruit people with the skills they need once the so-called Brexit process has been fully undertaken.
Around 54% are also concerned that a lack of access to EU employees could hinder their efforts to pursue growth in the coming years, according to the FSB.
Partly with the findings of its own research in mind, the FSB is urging the government’s policymakers to guarantee as soon as possible that businesses in the UK will still be able to employ EU citizens once the Brexit process is complete.
The organisation’s investigations also found that the average British SME wants a period of three years to address whatever issues arise in the context of employment and potential skills shortages once the UK leaves the EU.
“There is real concern among small firms with EU staff that they will lose access to the skills and labour their business needs to survive and grow,” said Mike Cherry, the FSB’s national chairman. “EU workers are a vital part of our economy, helping to plug chronic skills gaps across a wide range of sectors, and filling jobs in an already tight labour market.
“From packers, to mechanics, to graphic designers, small employers need to be able to hire the right person, for the right job at the right time,” he said.
The FSB has also recently suggested that a sudden loss of funding from the EU to small businesses in all parts of Britain could lead to some significant financial challenges for operators within the UK’s SME sector over the course the coming years.
“If the next government is serious about developing an Industrial Strategy that delivers prosperity… it must replace EU funding dedicated to small business support and access to finance after we leave the EU,” said Mike Cherry in a recent statement on that subject.
Nick Johnson, Managing Partner at Glaisyers commented:
“The handling of the Brexit negotiations will involve preserving what is best of the EU. While there was talk of closing our borders to immigration we need to handle this carefully whereby we are able to attract talent from abroad as well as attract labour where we have a shortage. Small businesses do not want to be in a position where they lose a large pool of European labour and therefore restrict their choice. Small businesses need to be able to be flexible and to draw upon labour quickly.”