The Next Skill Shortfall for Brexit Britain Could Be Bankers
(Bloomberg) -- First, the lorry drivers dried up. Now, lobbyists in post-Brexit Britain are warning of another looming skills shortage: bankers.
International staff, mostly from the European Union, make up about a fifth of the 1.1 million people working in U.K. financial services. But Brexit is making it harder and more expensive to hire foreign staff, according to a report by TheCityUK, a lobby group, the City of London Corporation, and EY, the consultancy firm.
“Talent is consistently the number one issue that comes up when we talk to our companies,” said Miles Celic, chief executive officer of TheCityUK. “London, and the rest of the U.K., is really dependent on being able to attract talent from overseas.”
EU citizens enjoyed the right to live and work in the country before Brexit took effect in January. A grace period for EU nationals to apply for so-called settled status elapsed in June -- adding complications to an already tight labor market right across the country’s supply chains.
“The challenge is that EU nationals are now in the immigration system,” said Seema Farazi, global immigration partner at EY and a co-author of the report. “The full impact has not been felt because the volumes have been muted by the pandemic.”
The changes also come with a soaring cost. Sponsoring employers would need to pay just over 21,000 pounds ($28,228) to transfer a worker, their partner and two children into the U.K. for five years under the Tier 2 visa process, according to earlier estimates by the City of London Corporation and EY.
Another key concern is “the gap in the system for short-term business travel,” the report said. Currently “a relatively minor shift in activities often results in a drastic increase to the cost, timescale and administration associated with compliance with the immigration regime and there is no middle ground between visitor status and a work visa.”
The review recommended the creation of an hybrid short-term business visa to allow employees to enter the U.K. for short-term productive activity without a work visa.
The report also warned of problems with business travel. One anonymous participant in the report said they had difficulties organizing visas for staff in fintech -- where the U.K. workforce is 42% international -- to take part in accelerator labs.
“Could there be a crunch point?” said Celic. “Of course there could. This is absolutely fundamental to our long-term success.”
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.