Britain’s creative industries are facing a "potentially catastrophic" loss of talent and skills following Brexit, the Creative Industries Federation has warned, arguing that the end of freedom of movement poses a "huge risk" to the sector.
The Federation's research, The Global Talent Report, has analysed post-Brexit employment across the sector, revealing that companies "rely on immediate access to European workers" and the end of freedom of movement could jeopardise its future.
The research found 75% of companies employ (non-UK) EU nationals, with two thirds of those saying they could not fill those posts with UK workers. One company estimated a 40% drop in revenues if freedom of movement between the UK and EU were to end. Further, 57% of those surveyed said they are already facing skills shortages, even with current access to EU workers.
The publishing industry currently employs 167,000 UK workers, 19,000 EU workers and 7,000 non-EU workers, according to data from the department of digital, culture, media and sport, cited in the report. A talent drain if EU nationals are no longer allowed to work in the UK following Brexit is a key concern for the book trade, publishers have previously told The Bookseller.
Restrictions on freedom of movement would hit Britain’s creative industries "particularly hard" because the sector relies on a high proportion of freelancers, with one third of all workers and half of all creative posts being this kind of job. The existing visa system makes it "extremely difficult" for freelancers to set up in the UK, the report said, concluding that the government must "act quickly to avoid a disastrous skills shortage".
John Kampfner, c.e.o. of the Creative Industries Federation, said that the findings showed the end of freedom of movement posed a "huge risk" to the creative industries. "Losing access to crucial international talent will damage our ability to produce the films, books and television that define Britain around the world", said Kampfner. "Arts and culture have a huge role to play in forging new relationships with other countries. We need an immigration system that enables our extraordinary sector to continue to grow.”
Stephen Lotinga, c.e.o. of the Publishers Association, chief executive, added: “Publishing is a huge success story in the UK. With more than half its revenues generated by exports, the sector is a prominent player on the international stage.
“Due to the fast pace of changes in the industry, publishers increasingly need to hire employees with digital and technological skills which cannot always be met by the domestic workforce. Although the publishing industry is keen to play its part in helping to train the workforce, while there continue to be skills shortages publishers must hire from outside the UK in order to remain competitive. Any future visa system should seek to address these skills gaps by ensuring publishers have access to an international talent pool.”
The report recommended the government introduce a new Creative Freelancer visa for workers from outside the EU and called on it to negotiate free movement of UK and EU workers for short-term projects.
Visa-free travel between the EU and the UK for EU workers was also suggested so that reciprocal rights for UK workers to move and work freely for short-term projects are secured, along with "same-day" access to talent, to allow employers to bring in EU workers without meeting the current non-EU minimum salary requirement and to maintain freedom of movement during any period of implementation.
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