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Large consultancy and engineering firms will consider moving jobs from the UK if single market access is not maintained

Posted: 08/11/2017

Nearly a quarter (22%) of large consultancy and engineering firms say they will consider relocating jobs out of the UK if Brexit makes it more difficult to move staff around Europe, according to a new report.

The Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE) and leading law firm Penningtons Manches produced the report, the first of its kind to compile data on the impact of EU migration on the consulting engineering sector, following a survey of ACE members.

It examines the shadow that Brexit is casting over the UK construction industry, with the consultancy and engineering sector set to be hit hard if access to the single market is not maintained after the UK leaves the EU, with thousands of posts potentially affected.

Continued unfettered access to EU skilled nationals is vital to consultancy and engineering firms, many of whom will be designing and engineering some of the UK’s major infrastructure projects like HS2, Hinkley Point C and Heathrow Airport’s third runway.

ACE chief executive Nelson Ogunshakin, said: “The report paints a worrying picture and we will be using its contents in our discussions with the independent Migration Advisory Committee to help strengthen our arguments with hard data from member firms.

“It is essential that we make ministers aware of the numbers of EU nationals working in consultancy and engineering firms so that we can better inform government policy making and highlight the difficulties the sector will encounter in recruitment and retention in a post-Brexit world.”

Other key highlights of the report are:

  • on average, 10% of consulting engineering firms’ staff are from EU member states which is higher than the construction industry average of 6%
  • 67% of EU staff work in London and the south east which is higher than the construction industry average
  • UK workers in the sector are younger than the industry average
  • across the construction industry as whole, EU nationals are younger than their UK counterparts
  • 83% of EU nationals in consulting engineering firms are aged 30-39 which makes them older then the construction industry average
  • EU nationals have been used to help manage the UK’s engineering skills gap
  • 50% of EU nationals are fee earners
  • Continued recognition of UK qualifications will be important to EU nationals’ retention

Ogunshakin added: “People are at the heart of our industry and without them we have no businesses. Anything that impacts on the ability of consulting engineering firms to hire the best and most talented staff will impact on the ability of the sector to compete globally and efficiently deliver the UK infrastructure pipeline.

“Infrastructure is the key enabler of growth and the driver of the UK economy improving peoples’ lives and our national prosperity. Our report highlights the crucial importance of EU nationals to our industry and the necessity of ensuring that consultancy and engineering firms continue to have unfettered access to EU staff following Brexit.”


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP