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Declining EU immigration hits UK logistics sector

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Logistics businesses are struggling to fill job vacancies as the number of EU nationals immigrating to the UK for work continues to plummet, according to a report released this month by FTA.

The organisation, which speaks for the UK logistics sector, is asking government to recognise how reliant the industry is on EU workers and to amend its future immigration policy to welcome these vital individuals post-Brexit. 

According to the report, FTA’s Logistics Skills Report 2019, sponsored by Manpowerdeclining EU net migration has contributed to a 43% rise in job vacancies in the transport and storage industry over the past 24 months. Sally Gilson, Head of Skills Campaigns at FTA, comments: “The logistics sector is facing serious challenges in the recruitment and retention of labour: 59,000 HGV drivers alone are urgently needed to keep just to keep operations afloatBusinesses within the logistics sector are reliant on access to EU workers to help fill job vacancies; these workers currently constitute 13% of the entire logistics workforce. The logistics sector is the lifeblood of the nation’s economy, contributing £124 billion gross value added (GVA); without adequate levels of staff, operations will come crashing to a halt and businesses will cease trading.”

The report provides a detailed examination into how various factors, including the UK’s future immigration policy, are impacting the availability of labour in the logistics sector.The number of EU nationals moving to the UK for work is now more than 50% lower than its peak period between June 2015 – June 2016.

Ms Gilson continues: “With the Government now investigating an Australian Points Based System, the focus for future immigration is still focused on higher skilled workers. FTA is urging government to build its future immigration policy on what the UK economy needs to remain functional – not arbitrary academic levels and minimum salary requirements.”

The report also identified that difficulties recruiting younger people, in addition to existing employees reaching retirement age, is exasperating the driver shortage; 60% of HGV drivers are aged 44 years or older and only 19% under the age of 35.

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.  With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc.  A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.  

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