Over a third of EU workers could leave the East Midlands following Brexit, says KPMG

Ian Borley

An international survey commissioned by KPMG UK reveals that 36% of EU citizens working in the East Midlands could leave the country.

Out of these, 28% are considering leaving and 8% have already made up their minds to go. When extrapolated across the East Midlands’ entire EU workforce, this group is equivalent to just over fifty thousand potential leavers.

The survey also reveals that businesses have a key role in determining the scale of any potential Brexit brain-drain with EU nationals calling for a clear commitment from their employers that they want them to stay.

According to the research, the EU workers most likely to leave the country are what KPMG UK is calling ‘INDEYs’, the independent, in-demand, educated and young.

Ian Borley, senior partner at KPMG in the East Midlands, said: “Our survey highlights just how important the actions of employers are going to be if the East Midlands is to avoid a Brexit skills-drain.

“This is a potentially serious situation for employers relying on EU staff, particularly those who employ a lot of ‘INDEYs’, or independent, in-demand, educated and young younger workers. Judging by the latest figures our region’s hospitality, manufacturing and public education and health sectors could be hard-hit.

“Whilst the survey shows that the East Midlands isn’t the worst off in terms of potential leavers compared to the rest of the country, there is a lot hanging in the balance and too few employers are doing enough to support their EU employees.

“Compounding this issue, at a national level there is a reduction in applications from EU citizens to UK universities. This could create a high-end talent pipeline problem – and a shortage of skilled professionals.”

The international survey, which sampled 2,000 EU citizens working in the UK and 1,000 EU citizens from the 10 countries most likely to supply EU labour, also found:

• 88% of EU citizens in the East Midlands think it is either very or quite important to have a clear commitment from their employer that they want them to stay.

• 82% of EU nationals working in the East Midlands think it is either very or quite important for their employers to publicly assert the importance of EU staff.

• 48% of those surveyed in the East Midlands said they felt less welcomed and valued here since the Brexit vote.

• 49% of EU citizens in their home countries feel the country has fallen in desirability as a place to live and work.