Future UK immigration policy should be based on impartial, expert advice rather than politics to avoid jeopardising the jobs market, recruitment experts have warned.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) called on the government to come to a speedy agreement with Brussels on the rights of 2.2 million EU workers in the UK.
Around one in six workers in London are EU nationals, with the financial and business service sector alone employing 191,400 people from the bloc, REC said.
In the UK as a whole, EU nationals represent 7% of the total workforce, but reliance is higher in sectors such as manufacturing, retail and hospitality and construction.
Food processing firms employ 116,400 EU workers, representing a third of the sector's total workforce.
"Decisions about the future immigration system are too important to be subject to political whim – we need policy to be built on sound evidence and data," REC chief executive Kevin Green said.
"This report... shows that businesses need access to people to deliver growth, and that the current UK workforce alone cannot meet demand."
The UK's unemployment rate was at 4.6% at the end of April, the lowest level in 42 years.
The REC has warned that the UK's exit from the European Union could dramatically increase skill shortages, especially if tough restrictions are placed on workers arriving from the bloc.
It recommended putting in place a five-year roadmap for the implementation of any new immigration policies to allow businesses time to adjust to the changes.
The body also called for a visa system that reflects the UK's dependency on EU workers, along with provisions for seasonal and temporary workers.
"Designing the post-Brexit immigration system is an enormous task and it cannot happen only in Whitehall," Green added.
"Recruiters are on the frontline of the labour market, and we are ready to work with the government to design and deliver policies that will help the country prosper."