KEY SECTORS of the West Yorkshire economy could face “severe disruption” as a result of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a new report.
One in 20 workers in the Leeds City Region are EU migrants with the proportion in some sectors much higher.
In manfucturing, seen as vital to the area’s future economic growth, one in eight workers are estimated to be from the EU and more than one third in food manufacturing.
The report from the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) on the future skills needs of the area warns: “The intensity of EU migrant employment in some geographic areas, sectors and occupations create a risk of severe disruption for some employers should access to this Labour source be affected by the UK’s decision to leave the EU”.
The future ability of EU nationals to come and work in the UK, known as freedom of movement, is set to be one of the key elements of Britain’s Brexit talks with Brussels.
Theresa May’s promise to allay public concerns over immigration by curtailing freedom of movement has raised concern among some businesses that they could find it harder to recruit the skilled people they need.
The Government has also yet to give an unconditional guarantee that EU workers already in the UK will be allowed to remain once Britain leaves.
Bradford Council leader Susan Hinchcliffe, who speaks on skills issues for the LEP, said: “People voted to come out of the EU but the vast majority of people didn’t vote for the wholesale repatriation of the EU workforce. I think that’s clear. So we do need Government to make sure they put common sense into negotiations and we do need an agreement with Europe on the movement of labour.”
The report suggests 71,000 new jobs will be created in the area over the next 10 years.