Recruiters press for longer freedom of movement

Recruiters have called on government to extend freedom of movement for a further four years after Brexit.

Over the weekend, the BBC reported Environment Secretary Michael Gove claimed the "cabinet is united" over the need for a transitional period after Britain officially leaves the EU, adding an "implementation period" ensuring access to migrant labour and economic stability would happen.

His comments followed newspaper reports that free movement for EU citizens could continue for years after March 2019, with The Times reporting Prime Minister Theresa May is prepared to offer EU citizens free movement for up to two years after Brexit, and the Guardian claiming it could be four years.

It is clear recruiters would prefer the latter proposal. Tony Goodwin, group CEO and chairman of global recruiter Antal International, is one of those preferring that proposal, although he told Recruiter that deal needs to be reciprocated for UK workers in the EU.

“It’s got to be reciprocal but this whole movement of labour issue is absolutely critical to a successful Brexit…

“What we’re talking about here are skills shortages, the ability to grow the economy, bringing in people in to be able to do that, people who want to work, who can work and are skilled to work, people who are semi-skilled and unskilled.

“I was talking to a major industrial recruitment company just last week and they said there is massive shortage of drivers now, and they’re having to train their own for clients.”

Drivers Direct’s managing director Gethin Roberts told Recruiter: “Four years would suit us better than two because we would have longer to look at anything we need to implement.

“We are still hoping that freedom of movement will be extended to where we have a shortage of workers such as driving… We would hope while we still have a shortage of drivers that we will be able to call upon resources from the EU.”

Stephanie Newitt, founder of DR Newitt Recruitment, also told Recruiter, she would prefer four years over two.

“For us a business, we would be better with four. All of the food manufacturers’ sites that we deal with, there are very few British Nationals that work there. They are all people from the EU or from even further abroad so I would say four years is more reasonable than two.”

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