Brexit Analysis - Energy & Utility Skills

Brexit Analysis

Our Skills Strategy sets out our approach to ensuring a resilient, agile workforce so that the energy and utilities sector can continue to flourish following Brexit.

Brexit Analysis

Implications of Brexit

On 29 March 2017, the Prime Minister officially triggered Article 50 and began the two-year countdown to the UK formally leaving the European Union.

The energy and utilities sector now faces new political uncertainty, in addition to existing workforce challenges. The labour market implications are critical for our sector and we need to do all we can to ensure that our workforce is agile and resilient.

The State of the Labour Market

Energy & Utility Skills’ analysis of recent data published by the Office for National Statistics indicates that the UK’s labour market is arguably tighter than at any point since records began:

  • The proportion of people aged 16 to 64 in work (the national employment rate) reached their highest levels in March 2017 at 76.1%. At the same time, the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since July 1975 at 3.8%
  • The lack of labour availability is also reflected in job growth across the economy. In the 12 months to December 2016, the number of jobs in the UK economy has grown by just 1.6%
  • During the same period, however, the number of jobs in the water supply, sewerage and waste management sector has grown by 8.3% and the power and gas sector grew by 7.9%

This means that our sector is facing intense competition for many of our core skills, rising labour costs and ongoing difficulties in attracting sufficient new recruits.

Brexit Dashboard

Please view our ‘UK Labour Market Statistics Dashboard’ for a summary of the latest intelligence on the state of the labour market as we approach Brexit.

It shows that the UK labour market remains extremely tight, with record high employment and record low unemployment.  It also shows the impact that Brexit is having on the migration patterns of EU nations – with more leaving than entering the UK.  The number of vacancies has also increased over the past year; as has the rate at which average weekly earnings is growing.

As many as 65%* of the predicted vacancies in our sector will be required to come from the UK’s general labour market. We track the labour market movement as we progress to Brexit.

EU Nationals seeking work in the UK

  • EU nationals migrating to the UK down by 61,000
  • EU nationals emigrating from the UK up by 130,000

Source: Migration Statistics Quarterly Report: February 2019

Unemployment levels

  • Unemployment levels are the lowest since 1975 at 3.8% 

Source: Labour market overview, UK: May 2019, ONS

Employment levels and labour costs

  • This is the joint highest level of employment since records began at 76.1%
  • Excluding bonuses, average weekly earnings increased by 3.3% before adjusting for inflation – an increase of 1.5% in real terms

Source: Labour market overview, UK: May 2019, ONS

​Graduate Market

  • University applications remains ‘down by 2%’** in the UK
  • Of the 52,000 graduates from relevant STEM subjects in 2016/17, just 700 – 1.4% – entered employment in the energy and utilities sector

Source: HESA Destinations of Leavers Survey and Student Record, 2016/17

**Year on year figure


  • There were 846,000 vacancies in the UK – up 28,000 in the past year

Source: Labour market overview, UK: May 2019, ONS

Skills Shortages

  • 23% of all UK vacancies are classified as skills shortages
  • In the energy and utilities sector, 26% of vacancies were classified as skills shortages

Source: UK Employer Skills Survey, 2017, Department for Education

Brexit Analysis UK Labour Market Statistics

Preparing for the Future

We need to ensure that our labour market is flexible and resilient and, above all, meets the needs of employers. In order to achieve this, Energy & Utility Skills will continue to implement the measures set out in the sector’s Workforce Renewal & Skills Strategy.

We recognise the significance of Brexit for skills, workforce renewal and wider employment issues in our sector and will track developments closely. To help with this, we have created a Brexit Timeline detailing events and milestones as the UK and EU negotiate Britain’s exit.

Please view our Brexit Timeline where we are tracking the latest developments.

Find Out More

To find out more about membership and our Brexit analysis work, please contact us on 0845 077 99 22 or email

For all press enquires visit our Media Centre.