Exploring skills and resources: the impact of Brexit on East European migrant businesses in the UK

Authors: Catherine Harris*, University of Birmingham, Natalia Vershinina, University of Birmingham, Aleksandra Kazlowska, University of Birmingham
Topics: Migration, Economic Geography
Keywords: Brexit, migration, EU, business, skills, resources
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom III, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The number of EU citizens owning and running businesses in UK is unknown, although the Financial Times reporting on a study by DueDil (FT 2014) states that one in seven UK businesses are established by migrants creating 14% of UK jobs. Their role as employers may be under threat if EU employers find the business and social climate becoming increasingly unfavourable. Brexit could have an impact on the businesses they run, on their employees and on the neighbourhoods in which they reside. This impact could particularly be felt in terms of skills if either skilled migrant entrepreneurs choose to leave the UK, or if they cannot access the skilled workforce that they need. In response, this paper attempts to understand the ways in which skilled East European citizens running businesses in the UK are coping with the uncertainty of Brexit. The research explores how Brexit may impact on the businesses they run, particularly in terms of the future of the business and access to skills. Since many businesses are family run, or are important in family life, a focus will be given to families’ strategies of accessing skills and resources in the Brexit process. Using as a starting point, family resilience (Walsh 2016) and conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll 2001) the paper will aid the understanding of the experiences of EU families running skilled businesses but facing Brexit uncertainty and how they respond to, and plan for accessing skills for themselves, their businesses and their families during the Brexit process.

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