Following the vote to leave the EU in the Brexit referendum, plans have now moved forward and in March 2019 the UK will enter into a ‘transition’ period until 31 December 2020 to allow the country time to prepare for the commencement of the new post-Brexit rules.
On the day the results of the referendum were revealed, the economy took an immediate downturn, but nothing there also wasn’t the expected rise in unemployment, which continued to fall to achieve its lowest figure in 40 years of 4.3%. And the picture is now becoming clearer about what the future holds for UK-based employers in terms of recruiting staff from EU countries.
When asked to comment on just how confident they were feeling about their recruitment prospects following Brexit, a nationwide survey of employers revealed that 28% were beginning to feel slightly more confident about hiring staff. This rise in confidence was thanks mainly to the agreement with Brussels that EU workers who arrive during the Brexit transition period will be allowed to stay in the UK. However, there are still many more firm decisions to be made.
Surprisingly, this hasn’t led to over-resourcing as employers prepare ahead of Brexit; in fact, only 17% plan to increase the number of permanent staff in the next year or so. Although these are positive signs, there are still some indicators that recruitment may be a major concern to many organisations, as increasing use is being made of temporary or freelance workers, at the expense of permanent roles.
With EU workers contributing to approximately 8% of the overall UK workforce, there are certain sectors that heavily rely on unskilled workers from the EU, such as fruit picking, or on highly skilled EU migrants, such as the NHS, and there are some concerns about who will fulfil these roles once new migration rules are in place.
Research has also shown that some organisations are choosing to invest in the existing workforce by proactively identifying potential talent for development, which has also led to stronger relationships being formed between executives and employees organisation-wide.
Recognising that it will be much more competitive in the recruitment sector post-Brexit, an increase in the number of employee engagement initiatives being launched over the coming months is to be expected, which will hopefully contribute to a further increase in confidence in both employers and employees ahead of Brexit.
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