How will Brexit affect the recruitment industry?

With the Brexit process seemingly locked in political deadlock, many people are struggling to maintain an interest in the topic – which is still unresolved almost three years on from the original referendum result.

Whether it’s hard, soft or somewhere in-between, Brexit’s impact on our economy has been theorised by a number of economists and political commentators; but how exactly will it affect the recruitment industry?

recruitment industry

With Brexit day now postponed until October 31st 2019, what predictions can we make for the recruitment industry when we finally extricate ourselves from the EU?

Overseas workers

Whilst the domestic market seems to be largely stable and growing at pre-referendum rates, the pool of overseas talent is displaying a diminished interest in working in the UK.

As Brexit negotiations progress, some recruiters have reported a decreasing number of international candidates seeking jobs in the UK. A study of recruitment agencies on Linkedin highlighted these issues: 37% of recruiters surveyed are seeing a decrease from Italy, 35% from France, 35% from Germany, 32% from the Netherlands, 29% from Spain and 33% from other EU 27 countries in Q1 2018.

As Britain is highly likely to move away from the EU’s free movement of people principle, there will undoubtedly be a lesser pool of talent available from the EU. What is not known is the potentially negative long-term affect the vote to leave will have on the country’s open and accessible reputation across the world.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Membership of the EU has allowed for a large amount of European skilled and unskilled workers to seamlessly start working in the UK, which has generally been positive for British companies looking to hire and expand.

However, a key principle of the pro-Brexit campaign was to prioritise British workers instead of relying on the quick-fix of foreign labour. This could arguably lead to more companies providing training opportunities, increasing salaries and improving job security in order to make roles more appealing to the British workforce.

Therefore, in order to tackle this potential skills’ shortage, almost half of British companies said they would train and upskill employees’ to fill the gaps in their workforce.

Although Britain has benefitted hugely from its easy access to the pool of workers from the EU, the loss of these workers may increase internal training opportunities for British workers.

Workers’ rights

At the time of writing, the existing EU legislation on workers’ rights is due to be converted into British law in order for the legislation to remain the same after Britain leaves the EU. That said, these rights are likely to be altered over time – to what ultimate end depends on many factors including which party is in power.

It is too early to predict how leaving the EU will affect issues such as the average hours of the working week, maternity leave, sick pay and more, but in the short to mid-term it is unlikely any political party would want to rock the boat too much by repealing any of the more popular EU directives on workers’ rights.

A cause for optimism in the recruitment industry?

Whilst the nature of the Brexit deal remains uncertain, there has been no shortage of jobs being made available or willingness for companies to expand their workforce since the vote to leave. This positive note has been countered by the fact that the UK is now seen as a less attractive place to work for many EU workers.

Whilst the shifting sands of Brexit means the outlook can radically change from one day to the next, the overall view of the recruitment industry remains largely positive. 71% of talent professionals feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident about their ability to recruit the right talent, showing the resilience of the industry.

According to the same survey, several London-based recruitment agencies have seen an increase in business since Brexit due to the following: business growth (56 percent); more vacancies (45 percent); more suitable candidates on the market (32 percent); and sector specific needs (28 percent).

So for a rare sunny spot amongst the Brexit doom and gloom, look no further than the thriving recruitment industry…