Cornwall Chamber of Commerce is hosting a special conference later this month to debate the impact that Brexit is having on the Duchy’s EU migrant workforce.
A survey commissioned by Cornwall Council and the LEP says that there are 17,000 EU migrants working in Cornwall, but in the wake of Brexit that figure is falling rapidly.
It says thousands of seasonal workers are leaving with little intention of returning, because Sweden, Benelux and other regions are now seen as more appealing destinations. Reasons cited indicate that they feel unwelcome in the UK, the pound is weak, and their home countries now have stronger economies.
The fear is that many sectors in Cornwall rely on European workers and as a consequence will struggle to fill many vital positions. “Broccoli is already lying unpicked in the fields.”
Cornwall Chamber chief executive, Kim Conchie, said: “Brexit offers many challenges and opportunities but one issue which is the most imminent is the shortage of EU migrant workers which have been the backbone of Cornwall’s agricultural sector and an essential element of hospitality, care and construction in Cornwall.”
The survey, which is to be submitted to a Home Office committee, makes a number of recommendations including a call an immigration policy which acknowledges “required skills” and not just the highly-qualified people permitted to immigrate.
It also calls on a policy to lead on specific solutions for seasonal labour.
The Chamber is holding a special half-day conference at The Eden Project on November 23 – ‘What Next for Cornwall’ – to debate the issue.
“Cornwall’s business community need to act quickly to make Cornwall seem a desirable place for migrant workers to come,” Conchie added.
Tickets for the event are £25+VAT each and can be booked by clicking here.