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LONDON - Almost one million EU citizens working in the UK, many of whom are highly qualified, are planning to either leave the country or have already decided to do so following Brexit, a new study has found.

The international survey, which sampled 2000 EU citizens working in the UK and 1000 EU citizens from the ten countries most likely to supply EU labour, also found that 50% of people felt less welcome since the referendum. The research also discovered that 55% of those with PhDs and 49% of those with postgraduate degrees had either decided to leave or were considering it.

Karen Briggs, Head of Brexit at KPMG, who conducted the research, said: “Our survey highlights how important the actions of employers are going to be if the UK is to avoid a Brexit brain-drain. Although almost half of the EU citizens working in the UK plan to stay, what other EU citizens choose to do is definitely hanging in the balance.

“Against this backdrop we expect to see increased competition for talent between employers over the coming years, and numerous firms seeking to supplement their workforce with AI, robotics and automation.”

Punam Birly, Head of Employment & Immigration at KPMG, said the survey indicated too few employers were doing enough to support their EU employees, which was making the UK vulnerable.

Ms Birly said: “Compounding this issue we’re seeing a reduction in applications from EU citizens to UK universities. This could create a high-end talent pipeline problem.”