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Many UK firms rely on EU workers and skills, according to new research from a think-tank.
The study undertaken by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) and Adecco Group concluded UK employers rely heavily on workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens.
Overall, the study found there are currently 1.6 million EU workers employed in the public and private sectors – equal to six per cent of all UK employees.
The capital shows a particular reliance on EEA workers, with them accounting for 13 per cent of London’s total workforce, while the manufacturing and hospitality sectors also had strong levels of European workers.
Adam Hawkins, managing director and board member at Adecco said: “This research raises serious questions about the potential impact of ‘Brexit’.
“Uncertainty is bad for business, particularly those looking to hire and invest in the future. The recruitment industry has seen a significant slowdown in the number of businesses looking to hire permanent staff as we draw nearer to the referendum.”
Nigel Keohane, co-author and director of research at the Social Market Foundation, explained the research “should provide insights as employers think about their future recruitment strategies”.
The referendum to decide on whether the UK will remain or leave the European Union will take place on June 23rd.