Brexit – A Recruiter’s View
When the results of the EU Referendum came in and the shock announcement was made that the people of Britain had voted to leave the EU uncertainty hit and the questions started coming. Since the referendum the questions haven’t stopped but they have changed. There are still many questions surrounding the uncertainty in the financial markets but, as the head of a recruitment firm, the question I am asked most is ‘How has Brexit affected recruitment?’.
The answer is two-fold. Firstly, business is still busy, so in spite of the doomsayers predicting the bottom falling out of the job market, I’m pleased to say that they weren’t wholly correct. Yes, some companies have put a freeze on hiring staff until the direction of the UK is better understood but many have simply continued with business as usual.
Secondly, we have noticed a shift in the type of hiring that’s been going on. To continue with business plans, whilst hedging their bets, we’ve found there is now a greater emphasis on contract staff and temporary positions. It seems firms want to refrain from offering permanent positions until the outcome of Brexit is more firmly outlined.
As to the matter of candidate availability, that’s presenting a few more issues as people are electing to remain in their current roles rather than looking for new ones. This is probably a result of a combination of the usual ‘summer slow down’ together with the uncertainty that Brexit has presented. That said, unemployment figures are at an eleven year low in the UK, running at just under 5%, so the market is not as fluid as it was even five years ago.
One of the key areas we’re finding increasingly challenging is in the acquisition of qualified candidates for accountancy roles. ACA / ACCA qualified accountancy was a popular choice for the so-called Baby Boomer generation, but as they retire, there’s a lack of new talent coming through the ranks. This dearth, however, has its roots in a longer-term issue than Brexit.
For the future, what will we see? Well, that calls for a crystal ball and a good deal of speculation and many of the predictions we’ve had so far have been incorrect. However, it’s likely we’ll continue to see movement of qualified people between the EU and the UK – talent always finds a way and this fluidity has proven extremely beneficial to various national economies as well as multinational’s bottom lines. For the UK, it’s likely we’ll see a general worsening of skills shortages in key areas over the medium term. The trend towards hiring interim and temporary staff will likely continue over the short to medium term. Ultimately, things will settle down, and the permanent vacancies will start opening up again. As much as business dislikes uncertainty in the economy the stability of a permanent workforce has an impact too great to be traded off permanently.