Brexit: So what will happen to the economy when the foreign workers go home?

Over on Channel 4 there is a new darkly funny fly on the wall documentary series “British Workers Wanted“. It shows a recruitment company in England coping with life during Brexit. 98% of the company’s recruitment staff are foreign, but what do you do when after Brexit the foreign workers start to leave?

The show follows the company’s efforts to recruit British workers to do the jobs that the foreign workers used to do, but with predictably dire results. This 1-minute clip sums up the issue:

Basically, most employers prefer foreign workers. They find they are more productive and industrious than local workers. Employers it seems have a regular list of complaints about local workers – they don’t turn up, they are always on their phones, they have no initiative and have to be constantly monitored, they are lacking in basic skills like communication, writing and maths etc. It seems many UK workers at the lower end of the economic scale are not just unemployed, but unemployable.

There is an issue with wages. Companies are using low wages to plug the productivity gap, but you get the feeling that there is more or less full employment for anyone half sensible. The minimum wage needs to be set at the living wage level, but from the TV show, it looks like many young people are just completely unrealistic. If you are a barely literate 18-year-old with no qualifications your economic desirability is not great, to say the least.

So what will happen when you have less foreign workers to do the jobs UK workers do not want to do? Well in farming there are already issues with millions of pounds of fruit and veg rotting in the fields as there is no one to pick them. If most of your workers are Eastern European why not just move your farm to where the workers are?

Factories will try to automate as much as possible but for tasks that require manual workers, factories will just have to reduce production, outsource to abroad or even just close. This will have a knock on effect on the UK economy. Productivity will decline further, tax returns will reduce and public spending will need to be cut more.

And in healthcare? Hospitals will have fewer doctors and nurses, waiting lists will grow and more people will die. Care homes will have less staff, the quality of care will decline and many of us will spend our last days sitting in our own faeces as some stressed out care worker fires a ready meal at you. A comforting thought, eh?

What was the best part of the TV show? The boss of the recruitment company voted for Brexit.

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