The Impact of Brexit on the Recruitment Industry
By Bridgette Hernandez
The UK was scheduled to leave the EU on March 29th. Having come and gone, there is certainly still upheaval, as the eventual outcome looms ever closer.
Prime Minister May can’t get her deal through Parliament. And at this point, the EU has provided a short extension for her to continue to try to get this vote, but it still looks unlikely to get through parliament.
Could Brexit still occur without a vote? Yes. Could Brexit be cancelled? Yes, the EU has provided that the UK could cancel Brexit up to the last minute, provided there was a Parliamentary vote to do so. This, however, does not appear likely. And there are those in Parliament who would prefer a no-confidence vote right now, regardless of Brexit issues.
Obviously, things are in a state of upheaval in the UK. But this current crisis has been two years in the making, as May has negotiated the terms of Brexit, and the uncertainties surrounding the full impact have weighed on a number of business sectors.
It’s the Uncertainty That Matters
Whenever there is uncertainty in the political, social, or economic environments of a country, there are consequences. Businesses and people are hesitant to take major steps or make major changes until things “settle down.”
And this uncertainty has certainly impacted the ability of the recruitment industry to find talent and expertise outside of the UK and convince these individuals to uproot themselves, move to an uncertain business environment, and put their faith in the hope that all will be well.
What the Recruitment Industry is Experiencing
According to a LinkedIn Quarterly Report on Recruiter Sentiment Survey, as reported in The Undercover Recruiter, 96% of those involved in HR or recruitment state that Brexit is negatively impacting their efforts to find skilled and talented people to fill open positions in the UK. And, in this report, 50% of respondents stated that they expected this impact to significantly grow in the months, and perhaps years, after Brexit goes into effect.
The Specifics of the Toll That Brexit is Taking
There are a number of specific circumstances that recruiters are experiencing – circumstances that they credit to the uncertainties of Brexit.
- They cannot find enough available talent to fill position openings in the UK.
- Candidates are not open to moving to the UK in the current environment of uncertainty
- Candidates are far more willing to relocate for positions in other EU countries, because their economic environments remain stable. Thus, the competition is simply becoming too tough.
- Those from other EU countries already employed in the UK are concerned about their status once the exit occurs. If they were looking to change positions within the UK, they are no longer doing so.
- Many companies in the UK have their headquarters in other EU countries. Plans they may have had for expansion are now on hold indefinitely.
Here are some additional specific stats as reported by The Undercover Recruiter:
- 37% of surveyed recruiters are experiencing a decrease in recruitment form Italy
- 35% are seeing a decrease from France; 35% from Germany; 32% from the Netherlands; 29% from Spain; and 33% from the other 27 member countries of the EU.
- Surveyed recruiters are also experiencing a decrease in recruitment and hires from Canada, Australia, and the U.S. as well.
In short, UK job opportunities are far less attractive to international talented and qualified candidates. And the prospects for this changing are clearly up in the air. It is difficult to predict if and when the effects of Brexit will level out and candidates will again begin to see the UK as an attractive place to which to relocate and further their careers.
The UK Labor Market is Tightening
Because the ability to recruit internationally has suffered a decline, the internal labour market in the UK is tightening. Competition among businesses within the UK for local talent is high, and the pressure on companies to brand themselves as more attractive than their in-country competition has certainly increased. Companies will be forced into offering higher salaries, greater benefits, and other perks, in an effort to attract the talent they need. Of course, this provides an amazing environment for local talent that will be in a far better negotiating position than ever before. And recruiters will have to explain to their clients the realities of this new employment environment.
How Recruiters Should Advise Their Clients
The recruitment industry is not about to succumb to the challenges that Brexit has wrought. Instead, they will “roll with these punches,” advise their clients on the best strategies, and continue to seek the talent that their clients need, both at home and abroad. They will become more aggressive.
But in advising their UK clients, there are some strategies that may prove critical.
- Businesses will have to develop long-term strategies, anticipating what their need will be over the next several years and begin to work to fill those positions sooner rather than later.
- Companies must look within too their existing talent and skills and make plans to provide professional development and training to meet their future needs, both short- and long-term.
- Look beyond the EU for talent. Particularly in tech fields, there is a great deal of talent in Asia, India, and Eastern European countries that are not in the EU. While this talent has certainly heard of Brexit, it may have fewer concerns about fallout from it, especially if the company is UK-based.
What the Future May Hold
Certainly, there are concerns about the economy of the UK once Brexit occurs. And the uncertainty is causing reticence among job seekers to make any major moves right now. It is also possible that some EU-based companies may withdraw, though not likely if they remain profitable and can continue to operate as usual. The bigger issue right now is political, and that uncertainty continues to impact everyone.
About the author
She has more than five years of experience writing on topics such as tech careers, gadgets, and software development. In her spare time, she competes in robotics projects and volunteers at a local animal rescue.