Jessica Fino 27 Jun 2017 04:20pm

UK remains most popular place to work despite Brexit

Britain is still the favoured destination for highly skilled overseas workers, a new Deloitte study has found, but one third of non-British workers in the country are now considering leaving as a result of the Brexit vote

The Big Four firm surveyed 2,242 EU and non-EU workers. It found that 57% of respondents placed the UK in their top three destinations, ahead of the US (30%), Australia (21%) and Canada (19%).

However, 48% of migrant workers already in the UK said the country was now a little or significantly less attractive as a result of Brexit, with 36% of non-British workers in the UK saying they were considering leaving the country in the next five years and 26% in the next three years.

The research found highly-skilled workers from EU countries were the most likely to consider leaving, with 47% considering leaving the UK in the next five years, compared to 38% of highly-skilled non-EU workers.

However, 89% of non-British workers still consider the UK to be an attractive work destination, with highly-skilled non-EU citizens the most likely to choose moving to the country.

Those already living in Britain named job opportunities (51%), cultural diversity (34%), better lifestyle (30%) and work-life balance (27%) as their top reasons of choice.

David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive of Deloitte North West Europe, said, “Despite political and economic uncertainties, more people are attracted to live and work in the UK than anywhere else in the world.

“The UK’s cultural diversity, employment opportunities and quality of life are assets that continue to attract the world’s best and brightest people.

“But overseas workers, especially those from the EU, tell us they are more likely to leave the UK than before. That points to a short to medium term skills deficit that can be met in part by upskilling our domestic workforce but which would also benefit from an immigration system that is attuned to the needs of the economy.”

Deloitte also found that EU nationals in London were more likely to consider leaving (59%) than those in the Northern Powerhouse region (21%).

More than half of non-British workers complained that there has been ineffective or no communication on Brexit from their employer.

Moreover, 58% of them said it would be difficult or very difficult to find a British worker to replace them.

Angus Knowles-Cutler, vice chairman and London senior partner, added, “These shifts in the UK labour market come in the midst of a longer-term employment transition where automation is beginning to transform the world of work.

“The UK economy depends on migrant workers to plug gaps in both highly skilled and lower skilled jobs. If immigration and upskilling can help fill higher skill roles, automation can help to reduce reliance in lower skill positions.

"This will require careful consideration region by region and sector by sector, but there is a golden opportunity for UK workers and UK productivity if we get it right.”

In fact, 28% of highly-skilled migrant workers said parts of their work were either likely or highly likely to be automated in the next five to ten years, compared to 28% of lower-skilled non-EU workers and 36% of lower-skilled EU workers.