A groundbreaking event such as BREXIT is bound to have diverse and unpredictable consequences on aspects of our lives, both for those staying in the UK – regardless of their nationality – and for those that have either left or are preparing to do so. Among the issues involved in and concerned with the BREXIT phenomenon, it is safe to say that workers dental technicians salaries will be one of them.
Another issue that has proved equally tricky for all sides involved is will BREXIT put a stop to workers from the EU coming into the UK? A leaked Home Office document dated August 2017, reveals plans for Britain to end the free movement of labor immediately after BREXIT. Furthermore, it also states that the country aims to introduce restrictions to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers.
According to the paper, which for the first time ever sets out how Britain intends to approach the politically charged issue of immigration in an attempt to dramatically refocus policy to put British workers first, “put plainly, this means that, to be considered valuable to the country as a whole, immigration should benefit not just the migrants themselves but also make existing residents better off.”
Shortage of Experienced Technicians
When it comes to dental technicians, there is a growing shortage of experienced technicians in the UK at present. However, this is only one segment of a larger problem, which is to say that a shortage of dental technicians is not an issue limited to the UK alone. A number of developed countries around the world are experiencing similar shortages, most notably the United States.
Their National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) has predicted that in 10 years, 40% of all current laboratories will be gone because of a shortage of dental technicians. Furthermore, technicians that did the majority of prosthetic work delivered in 2001 in the U.S. were over 63 years of age. Also, 32 of 62 American Dental Association-accredited dental laboratory programs have closed since 1983 and the number of applications to the remaining dental technology programs has decreased steadily since 1994, a worrying statistic.
UK Employment & Salaries
With regards to the salaries of UK dental technicians in the United Kingdom, National Careers Service records show that as of May this year the average starter technicians salary is between £22,000 and £28,500. An experienced level (dental technician advanced) brings earnings up to £41,000, whereas a highly experienced level can amount to around £58,000. Although these figures are a mere guide, they provide a fairly accurate insight into what dental technicians are faced with at the moment.
Overall, the situation is seemingly looking up for British workers – employment in the UK hit a fresh record high in June. It rose up to 74.9% in the month, which is a record high since 1971, when comparable data was first compiled. The same could be said for unemployment, which fell down to 4.5% – a decrease from 4.6% at the last previous reading.
However, a wage squeeze has hit the UK since the BREXIT referendum continued – albeit at a marginally slower rate – regardless of the fact that employment hit a record high. True, it sounds good – wages grew by 2% against an expected 1.9% rate of expansion, which was also up from 1.7% in May; but, they still remained well below the rate of inflation currently occurring in the UK.
In other words, as of June, real wages were actually falling in Britain for a fourth consecutive month, as inflation was sitting at 2.9%. Thanks to the fall in the pound seen since last summer’s referendum, prices are rising across the board, with a particular emphasis on food prices, which are increasing especially rapidly. Put simply, compared with a year earlier, latest estimates showed that average weekly earnings for employees in the UK in real terms – which is to say, adjusted for price inflation – actually fell by 0.7% including bonuses, and by 0.5% excluding bonuses. So, the situation is not looking too bright.
Skilled EU Workers
According to the aforementioned leaked Home Office document, the plan is to introduce restrictions to deter all but highly-skilled EU workers. Although the situation for dental technicians in the UK is certainly less than favorable, they are currently not on the Shortage Occupations List. This begs two separate questions: should they be on it and if so, will BREXIT allow skilled dental technicians in from the EU?
The answer to these questions is not a simple one due to the sheer number of factors that influence not only the decisions of the workforce to choose dental technician careers, but also the greater implications of letting EU-trained professionals in the country. However, it is important to remember that BREXIT was a legitimate referendum whose purpose was to reflect the stance of the majority of British citizens with regards to the issue of EU inclusion.
Since the British public voted to be “freed” from the European Union, it stands to reason and logic that such a decision was rooted – at least in part – in the desire to change things for the better in the British economy, which includes higher wages for domestic workers whom dental technicians are a part of. Though the Home Office paper, aptly named “The Border Immigration and Citizenship System After the UK Leaves the European Union,” does have a strong “Britain first” theme throughout, there is nothing wrong with that – any self-respecting country places great importance on procuring the right skills primarily domestically to build a strong and competitive economy, especially during globalisation.
In reality, the question is not “should” skilled dental technicians be allowed in from the EU; it is how allowing them entrance will affect the current shortage in the country. If traditional economic theory is anything to abide by, then a shortage of any segment of workforce in a domestic market is bound to drive up wages, even if only slightly.
However, as for whether or not UK dental technicians will arrive at a position where they’ll be able to command higher wages, the answer is – probably, though it depends on how the government treats the profession in the future. If skilled technicians are allowed in from the EU, there should be an ample supply of workers, which might keep wages down. On the other hand, a shortage of domestic dental technicians is likely to bring about an increase in wages in the future.