Brexit: What does it mean for the UK's recruitment industry?


Following the EU referendum result it’s clear there’s a significant degree of uncertainty across the recruitment landscape, with some concerns highlighted by Ri5’s own research on the topic.

Here Dave Jenkins, managing director of Wave, offers his view on where the result leaves recruitment and suggests what steps could be taken next.

So, with Brexit and the England football team’s latest ‘disaster’ in Nice, our great island feels isolated and lonelier than ever.

Now, I’m no economic expert and there has already been so much written around the implications of the UK leaving the EU - and no doubt there will be as much written about the national team in the coming weeks too. But personally, I felt quite strongly that we should never have been put into the situation where we are being asked to collectively make decisions that are far more complex than was first suggested.

This isn’t about the past though – it’s about what happens next in recruitment.

Most people have looked a little blank when asked what comes next, and the ramifications of all this. In truth, few of us know. I didn’t and am still unsure what this means beyond the widely accepted and much bandied rhetoric that ‘things will be tough’. Sterling crashed, the FTSE is all over the place, and generally things are pretty volatile right now. Looking beyond that, we’re all struggling to know what this will mean.

Of course, everything will be alright, in the end; it always is. So, long-term for me I’m not all that worried. I’m actually being positive about it - but it’s the short term that concerns me.

How will the EU referendum impact employers?

Being in limbo is the worst place we can be. With people not knowing what is going to happen, we are all frozen in action. Recruitment industry wise, firms will adopt a wait-and-see approach which means activity will slow down.

Candidates will likely stay in their current roles (or in fact their current locations) so the market will slow until we know where we are at. And when reading the Indeed stats around which candidates want to come to this country, it’s predominantly ‘care assistant’, ‘nurse’ and ‘NHS’ that are being searched for.

These candidates are exactly the same candidates who have propped up the NHS for years. Additionally, anyone working within IT will know they need to cast the net wide to bring in the talent they need. Lack of talent in business equals lack of commercial performance.

Early trends

Of course, it’s been said that we will always allow the best talent into the UK if that’s what’s needed and I expect demand will ensure that happens.

During this time of uncertainty, however, candidates will surely think twice until they fully know the rules around whether they will be allowed to enter the country. In fact with all this uncertainty, the UK may also lose some of its current EU talent.

Indeed – which is always a good barometer for what’s going on in the jobseeker world - saw a large spike in UK job seekers looking at EU opportunities. EU jobseekers, meanwhile, are switching their attention to nearby Ireland with searches 2.2 times higher than before Brexit, so we are already seeing talent swerving our shores.

My point is, we voted to leave. So, let’s leave. We need to get on with it and set the new rules and regulations out. Be clear with employers and candidates as quickly as possible. The sooner we are not in a limbo state the better for everyone all round.

It’s time for solid, decisive leadership. No one wants to be the loner in the corner (of Europe) do they…?

Monday, 4 July 2016

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