Britain's economy faces a potential skills shortage as new official figures show a surge in EU migrants leaving the country in the year of the Brexit vote.
Business groups warned that a sharp fall in net migration last year, driven by a dramatic increase in EU nationals fleeing the UK, meant employers risk "losing key members of staff in positions that cannot easily be replaced".
The Office for National Statistics estimated long-term net migration to be 248,000 in 2016, down a "statistically significant" 84,000 from 2015.
The net change was driven by a big increase in EU citizens leaving the country as well as a smaller fall in people coming to the UK.
Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors, said: "Today's migration figures underline the importance of immigration to the UK workforce and are a warning of the damage a significant reduction could do. Alarmingly, the fall in net migration is being driven as much by people leaving as by fewer arriving. This is a big worry for employers who risk losing key members of staff in positions that cannot easily be replaced from the home-grown pool available. The IoD has repeatedly called for the government to guarantee the status of EU migrants already living here. Doing so would allow businesses to start planning for the future.