Impact of Brexit on recruitment sector
Steve Guest, MD of Techconsult based at the Wilton Centre
Steve Guest is managing director of Techconsult UK, a recruitment consultancy based at the Wilton Centre at the heart of industrial Teesside, which specialises in finding candidates for key roles in science and industry. Here he comments on the impact of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.
“It is no surprise to me that the vote to leave the European Union is having a direct impact on recruitment as we enter into a challenging period for businesses the length and breadth of Britain. Data from The Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) highlighted a slowdown in hiring as we approached the Referendum, and the organisation has predicted that this period of uncertainly will continue.
“As a company operating in the fields of science and industry, with a client base that comprises many firms who have international operations including within Europe, we are certainly experiencing the impact of this uncertainty first-hand.
“We have already seen several clients who had engaged us as recruitment partners to postpone the process as they wait to see what unravels over the coming months. One European headquartered company which was set to open a registered office in the North West has shelved the move for the time being, so the domino effect means that the work we have put into identifying a suitable branch manager has been in vain. Other companies, not necessarily with a direct link into Europe, are also exercising caution amidst financial uncertainly.
"On the flipside, we’ve also seen a European candidate reject an offer from a client at the eleventh hour as they were unsure about how Brexit will impact on their personal circumstances and ability to live and work in the UK.
“It is important to point out that it is by no means unknown for clients, or candidates for that matter, to make a U-turn when it comes to recruitment. People are the biggest investment for any business; circumstances can change and businesses sometimes need to readdress their needs, however it is clear that there is a direct correlation between the events of 24 June and the trends we’re experiencing.
“This is only a glimpse of what we’ve witnessed already within our own business, which is a worrying snapshot if you consider what is happening in all corners of the UK in the midst of this period of renegotiation and readjustment.
“Kevin Green, chief executive of the REC has asked for the government to do everything possible to help businesses grown and create jobs and I would strongly echo this call. It’s absolutely crucial for policy-makers to set out a timetable for the period of renegotiation with European Parliament to provide clarity for businesses, enabling them to make informed strategic decisions.
“In addition to the cloud of economic uncertainty that Brexit has cast, there are other considerations for the sector such as questions around whether government will make any significant changes to employment law once there is an agreement on when we will leave the EU. A number of employment issues are likely to be affected when we do, however I would hope that this impact is minimal. Much UK employment law exists regardless of EU membership and the UK might remain bound by some European employment laws in the interests of trade agreements.
"Once again however it is the uncertainly that could stall progress. Mr Green has called on policy-makers to set out the plan for implementing changes to employment regulations such as the Agency Workers Directive and the Working Time Directive and I would urge the government to provide clarity in these areas as soon as possible.
“The impact of the vote was bound to cause some initial uncertainty and instability, however I’m confident that this will settle down once there is some clarity and hope that this will curb any long-term impact. Once again I echo Mr Green’s thoughts and hope that the Referendum results lead to a step-change in the way we prepare current and future jobseekers in the UK, so that new entrants to the jobs market are better equipped with the skills and attitude that employers need.
"Now more than ever government, working closely with business and academia must seize the initiative and create a pipeline of talent so that individuals and businesses continue to flourish in a post-EU era.”