Interest from non-EU workers in lower-paid UK jobs is failing to make up for a 41% decline in interest from European workers since 2019, with hospitality particularly affected.
To mark the five-year anniversary of the Brexit referendum, job site Indeed analysed searches made on its platform for UK jobs by workers based overseas, both in the European Union and beyond.
According to Indeed, the declining interest in British jobs among EU-based workers cannot be attributed solely to the pandemic. Although interest in UK jobs from all foreign workers fell during 2020, searches from outside the EU have since rebounded nearly to pre-pandemic levels, while interest from the EU has continued to fall – especially in lower-paid jobs, which are most affected by post-Brexit immigration rules.
Searches for UK jobs from EU workers are down 36% compared to 2019 (and 45% down since 2016, the year of the referendum). The declining interest from the EU, coming as interest from the rest of the world is rising, may be attributed to the ending of freedom of movement for EU citizens at the beginning of 2021.
The UK government's new immigration regime aims to prioritise "those with the highest skills", but in practice, it is also making it harder to recruit foreign workers for lower-paid jobs.
Falling EU interest, including in sectors such as hospitality, has not been fully offset by non-EU workers, with demand for positions with lower salaries increasing only 12% among jobseekers in the rest of the world.
Jack Kennedy, UK economist at Indeed, said: "As the UK's economy reopens and job postings rebound to pre-pandemic levels, two distinct pictures are emerging for employers looking to hire talent from abroad.
"On the one hand, employers offering higher salaries, particularly in sectors such as tech, science and engineering, may have no trouble replacing EU workers, as jobseekers from the rest of the world are showing a keen and increasing interest in those roles.
"But lower-paid roles are not receiving the same attention from foreign workers as they did only two years ago.
"It means domestic workers may be required to fill the gaps. However, with many sectors, including hospitality, already struggling to recruit all the staff they need, higher salaries may be required to attract UK workers to fill those roles."
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