Brexit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Implications For Recruiters

By Ash Knight

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For better or worse, Britain has voted to leave the EU. No doubt your social media channels are jam-packed with heated Brexit debates, and you’ve probably heard embittered moans or elated cheers from every man and his dog. So, we won’t give you more of the same.

Instead, we’re taking a closer, more considered look at the post-leave UK recruitment sector. Will it prosper or perish? For our fellow recruiters, here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly implications of the referendum result.

The good

Reduced red tape                

It’s fair to say that UK employment legislation is complex and ever-changing. It’s also fair to say that this complexity has been accentuated by EU regulations. Brexit, with the emancipation it promises, could well end this era of unwelcomed bureaucracy.

Growth in home-grown talent

The UK skills shortage is so well-documented and so well-known in the recruitment industry that it needs no introduction here. Brexit, though, could force our hand. Immigration restrictions could mean increased investment in home-grown talent – with businesses and educational institutions uniting to prepare, train and develop workers for skills-short sectors.

Increase in agency fees

Purely from a short-term perspective, Brexit could spell an increase in recruitment margins. With a scarcity of skilled labour to contend with, it’s reasonable to assume that quality recruitment skills for niche roles could be in heightened demand, commanding higher fees.

The bad

An uncertain market

The referendum could plunge employers into preservation mode. In unsettled times, in unsure territory, will businesses still be looking to grow and hire new candidates? Niche roles aside, the UK labour market could see a serious hiring slowdown while employers wait for a decisive government response plan.

Job insecurities

Some 3 million UK jobs are linked to EU membership. What now happens to those jobs is uncertain, and we’re also hearing concerns that companies may relocate outside of our borders to continue taking advantage of the EU’s freedom of movement. Naturally, then, job security is a concern for many candidates following Thursday’s vote.

A “brain drain”

The UK is currently home to 2 million migrant workers. Some are unskilled workers helping to address a labour shortage; some are highly skilled workers supplying sought-after talent to industries in need. Post-Brexit, access to these workers is restricted. In turn, our economic growth and competitiveness could face similar restrictions.

The ugly

Decreased candidate mobility

Brexit means a smaller talent pool. Restrictions on talented candidates working in the UK could widen our skills gap, creating potential barriers to future success. A non-EU Britain will have an interrupted flow of talent, and great care must be taken to ensure that we can maintain the access to European markets enjoyed by nations such as Norway and Switzerland.

Lack of external appeal

Here in the UK, we’ve traditionally been seen by multinationals as something of a gateway to Europe. London in particular is a thriving talent hub, with two fifths of the world’s largest 250 companies having their main European HQ in the city. Post-Brexit, will we still present an appealing employment proposition?

Closed doors

A vote to leave the EU could be seen by many as strongly protectionist. As a nation, we’ve always striven to attract the best and brightest talent to our shores. We’ve taken a proud stance on being open to business, but Brexit could close these doors. For some, it could send an anti-immigration message that damages our international reputation.

One thing is certain: whether you voted Remain or Leave, the EU referendum and its results will impact both your personal life and your professional recruitment career. For Brexit to bring the intended benefits, a robust, responsible plan from the UK government is needed that will protect our jobs, support British businesses and encourage international talent mobility.

But since we’ve now shared our opinions, we’d love to hear yours. How do you think Brexit will affect the UK recruitment industry? Let us know!

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