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UK facing homegrown workforce exodus

Migration and retirement have underpinned a drop in the size of the UK-born workforce since 2016

The UK is facing an exodus of its homegrown workforce due to retirement and emigration, according to a report by Mercer.

The consulting firm found that the number of UK citizens leaving the country had increased by 10,000 to 134,000 between the beginning of 2016 and 2017. It also found 143,000 UK-born people had retired over the same period.

This loss of homegrown talent was offset by migration, with 147,000 EU-born citizens and 232,000 non-EU born citizens joining the UK workforce. However, the impact of the UK leaving the EU is already taking effect, the report found, with total net migration falling by 248,000 between December 2015 and December 2016.

The industry most at risk from these developments is transport and storage, where 24% of the workforce consists of non-UK citizens. This is followed by health and social care, administration and real estate.

Mercer partner Gary Simmons said the UK must realise the significant impact of its ageing workforce and loss of young homegrown talent. “Immigration is no longer filling the gap and the nation’s pool of younger workers is shrinking," he said.

“Organisations that have a younger workforce will have to think hard how to retain this group but also need to develop a fundamentally different approach in how they attract other types of workers – or get ready to pay huge salary premiums.

“Companies employing older workers who possess experience and deep organisational knowledge need to create working environments that capitalise on this as well as equipping them with new skills to ensure profitability."