Author Lauren Howells

Nearly one million EU workers, 3.1% of the UK’s national workforce, are considering leaving the UK or have already made up their minds to go, a new survey commissioned by KPMG UK has revealed.

In what is being described as a potential Brexit brain-drain, the study, which sampled 1,000 EU citizens from the 10 countries most likely to supply EU labour and 2,000 EU citizens working in the UK, discovered that the EU workers who were the most likely to leave the UK are the independent, in-demand, educated and young, dubbed the ‘INDEYs’.  

People with higher qualifications most likely to be considering leaving

According to the research, 55% of those surveyed with a PhD and 49% of those with a Postgraduate degree, revealed that they were either planning to leave or were thinking about it. 

Some sectors “slightly more vulnerable”

The survey found that sectors such as hospitality and events, engineering and manufacturing and property and construction were “slightly more vulnerable”, with more than 45% either leaving or considering it.

The research also revealed that young people were more likely to have plans to leave, with 44% of the 25 to 34-year-olds surveyed, either planning to leave or thinking about it, compared to 38% of the over 55s.

EU workers feel “less welcome and valued”

EU workers feel less welcome

When asked why they might not stay, 50% of the EU citizens surveyed in the UK said that they “feel less welcome and valued”.

Of those EU citizens surveyed in their home countries, 33% said that Brexit makes them think the British don’t welcome foreigners. 

More than half planning to exit before end of 2018

The majority of leavers were planning to exit the UK before the end of next year. 

Karen Briggs Head of Brexit at KPMG said:

“Our survey highlights how important the actions of employers are going to be if the UK is to avoid a Brexit brain-drain. Although almost half of the EU citizens working in the UK plan to stay, what other EU citizens choose to do is definitely hanging in the balance.  

“Against this backdrop we expect to see increased competition for talent between employers over the coming years, and numerous firms seeking to supplement their workforce with AI, robotics and automation.”

Reduction in applications to UK universities from EU citizens compounding the issue

Punam Birly, Head of Employment & Immigration at KPMG, said that looking at the evidence, the UK was vulnerable to losing some of its professionals due to too few employers doing enough to support their EU employees. 

She added:

“Compounding this issue we’re seeing a reduction in applications from EU citizens to UK universities.  This could create a high-end talent pipeline problem – and a shortage of chemists, linguists, and other budding professionals. At the very top end of the graduate market, those who are most sought after, and thus most highly rewarded, will be the biggest issue for employers.”

EU nationals make up 8% of the UK’s total working population, with 2.4 million EU citizens working in the UK.