Issue date
17 Nov 2016

Unions in the South West are warning the region's employers they face a growing skills shortage as a result of the Brexit vote.

The South West TUC asked union convenors, reps and officers across the region to gauge the impact on their workplaces of the vote to leave the EU, with 75% of them saying they fear the current skills gap would get wider.

Most felt it too soon to tell what the real impact of the referendum vote will be but most spoke about skill shortages in the region.

The poll suggests the current political and economic climate in the UK is leading non-UK workers to think about returning home and, although unions are working with employers to help them fill the skills gaps, there are concerns it is too little, too late.

South West TUC Regional Secretary Nigel Costley said: "A lot of skills shortages are being filled by migrant workers from the EU and India on short-term contracts but, as these contacts end, there are serious concerns they will return to their home country.

"The majority of our panel said migrant workers felt less secure in their jobs since the Brexit vote. This insecurity is shared by many UK workers because they are wary about what will happen to their jobs in the future. Some large employers plan several years in advance, but others don't have that luxury.

"While relatively confident of their jobs in the short-term, many are worried – especially those working for the big engineering firms – their jobs will be relocated abroad to fill the skills gaps that are appearing in the UK. Conversely, if their jobs stay in the UK, they fear their pay and working conditions could suffer as the UK economy suffers during the period of uncertainty."

The findings of the survey are part of a new pamphlet published by the South West TUC entitled ‘Taking the temperature of the South West economy – a snap-shot of the regional economy following the vote to leave the EU’.

Nigel Costley said: "The South West TUC wants a strong regional economy that creates and maintains decent well-paid jobs for everyone. We want to ensure working people don't pay the price of Brexit. We're calling on the government to push for a £10 an hour national minimum wage, spend money on infrastructure and use public procurement to support British business."


Download Taking the temperature of the South West economy (PDF)

* The South West TUC will return to these workplaces every month for six months to gauge the reaction to the Brexit vote from the people who feel it first.
Tim Lezard, media officer for the South West TUC
07810 641 459