A post-Brexit immigration clampdown is going to really hurt 3 of Britain's key sectors

LONDON — Several of Britain’s key sectors are “especially at risk” from post-Brexit changes to Britain’s migration policy, according to consultancy Mercer’s latest “Workforce Monitor” report.

The report found that the Accommodation & Food Services, Manufacturing, and Transport industries have, respectively, 33%, 23% and 20% of their workforce made up of non-UK-born nationals.

Net migration has already started to fall sharply in the UK, dropping by 49,000 to 273,000 last year, and Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to get the figure below 100,000 once Britain has left the EU single market after Brexit — which could have a significant impact on sectors which rely heavily on migrant labour.

Take a look at how the chart breaks down below:

It shows that each of the 11 key UK sectors considered in the report employ at least 10% non-UK nationals.

Experts including Jonathan Portes of King’s College London have warned that lower immigration figures could be the most economically costly aspect of Brexit. He says it will reduce the flow of skilled workers, increase the burden of regulation on business, and introduce the problems that come with trying to plan a labour market centrally.

Gary Simmons, a partner at Mercer, said: “Since 2013, the UK-born workforce has been declining as people retire, and we can see how reliant certain industries are on overseas workers filling the gaps.”

“The UK is likely to impose more stringent migration controls in the future, and this will reduce the number of overseas workers available. While we have focused on 11 industries in this report, the fact is that every company in every sector in the UK will be competing for a reduced pool of available workers,” he said.

The report suggested that companies may have to mitigate the impact of May’s immigration clampdown in a number of ways, including boosting automation, relocating operations abroad — as Goldman Sachs pledged to do on Tuesday — or even ceasing business operations in the UK entirely.

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