This project has been funded by the ESRC (£970k) and will run from late 2021-2024.
Labour mobility has been a key feature of the UK’s employment model, particularly since the enlargement of the European Union. The ending of freedom of movement of labour as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU constitutes an unprecedented case of re-regulation of labour mobility, with wide implications for work and employment in low-skilled sectors. Alongside this, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a crisis of mobility, with the closure of national borders exposing how jobs in sectors considered vital (Cabinet Office, 2020) tend to rely on migrant labour.
Our research will examine how multiple stakeholders navigate this double transition. The research will look at how the actions of stakeholders (employers, employer representatives, unions, civil society groups, migrant support groups and migrant workers) and social dialogue shapes new patterns of labour mobility and changes in employment practices.
The research will focus on 4 specific sectors, where there is extensive use of migrant workers: food and drink processing; social care; hospitality and logistics/warehousing.
The research will involve an original survey of employers, sectoral case studies and focus groups and workshops with a wide range of stakeholders.
One key area of focus of the research will be to examine the consequences of the adoption of new technologies such as automation and digitalisation in the sectors under study. This connects with core themes of interest of Digit.