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How will Brexit affect employment in the Waste and Resource Management sector?

18-May-2017
18-May-2017 12:20
in General
by Admin

How will Brexit affect employment in the Waste and Resource Management sector?

Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 shortly before 12.30pm on 29 March 2017, which means that Britain should officially leave the EU no later than April 2019. However, this may result in a slowdown in the sector with businesses expecting uncertainty about how 'Brexit' will impact upon them, as well as volatility in the economy.  

The waste management and recycling sector's growth could be harmed by a lack of workers available. We find that our clients are often seeking skilled plant operatives and engineers, and I fear this situation will only worsen the shortage unless we are fully prepared. Furthermore the sector often relies heavily on EU workers for the low skilled work such as pickers in MRFs etc, while there are alternatives such as Zenrobotics, these come at a premium. We also face the possible threat that demand for employment may decrease slightly as the UK decision to leave the EU will see investors in recycling technologies look to countries of less risk, however it does give the UK an opportunity to review existing waste legislation and it open's us up for the world stage.  

Regardless of Brexit the industry has always struggled to attract new minds to the sector and promote its importance to young people and companies are regularly plugging the gap by hiring EU workers but that option may soon be limited. In order for the sector to secure a prosperous future for the environment and our economy, the Government has to help the industry with clear vision and direction, given that the sectors recent waste management industrial revolution's growth was primarily driven by the implementation of EU Directives.  

Once we have a newly elected Government they must work closely with Defra to represent the sector in the negotiations with the EU on how best to take the sector forward. If we are to remain competitive they must ensure we have access to the workers we require, particularly where we’re already struggling to find the people we need. It is also essential that they put in place strong protections for employment rights as part of our deal with the EU for middle and low level workers, we can not let it hit them and they shouldn't be the ones to suffer in order to increase our competitiveness. Neither should it effect our commodity market, export demand of RDF nor should it cause an anti British sentiment.  

Already the UK are struggling to fill vacancies after the sharpest drop for more than a year in the number of available candidates and whilst it’s not clear yet what the migration policy will be the Government has to offer more career advice and they have to help develop more home grown talent to alleviate our skills shortage by trying to attract school leavers and highlight that the industry's apprenticeships are worth having. Businesses too must improve and invest in their employees with training.

We currently have the lowest unemployment rate since 2005 and people in work are more hesitant about moving jobs amid uncertainty, furthermore with the weakening pound and lack of clarity being offered it is putting some EU nationals off taking up roles in the UK and we need a clear and cohesive post-Brexit visa strategy.