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How to survive in a post-Brexit world

Five points to consider when facing the potential impact of the UK’s exit from the EU. As hot potatoes go, immigration policy and Brexit are probably as hot as they get. Politicians and pressure groups of all shades are throwing all sorts of opinions into the ring, the latest of which is a report from new think tank British Future

The key point is that Brexit is an opportunity for the UK to sort out its “broken immigration policy”, a true and poignant point that has plenty of relevance in the recruitment industry. Uncertainty surrounding policy has already had an impact with companies putting hiring and investment plans on ice. Since the vote, the CIPD recently reported a “significant change for the worse” in the share of employers expanding their workforces compared with those reducing staffing with recruiters. It said that a sharp drop in confidence has hit permanent job placements.

However, there are also opportunities in times of crisis, if you know where to look. PageGroup, for example, found in the run up to Brexit, legal recruitment grew 23 per cent, as companies sought advice on how to avoid any adverse shocks. Law firms and internal legal departments are now poised to benefit from significant post-Brexit regulatory changes – which will naturally eat up resource, and potentially lead to a further demand for legal staff. Certainly change is coming but that change does not need to be disruptive if recruiters plan and consider the potential impact.

1. Paused projects and temporary staff
Infrastructure projects such as Heathrow’s third runway and the HS2 railway have been hit by Brexit, and a recent KPMG report has revealed that 30 per cent of projects have been cancelled or postponed leading to a 28 per cent drop in recruitment. With such large scale projects put on pause the impact on temporary staff will be considerable. Managing this process and ensuring skills are still available as and when projects are restarted will be a challenge, otherwise projects will be understaffed, under skilled and end up delivering poor results for more cost.

2. Spread the net and manage costs
In talent starved industries like technology and healthcare, Brexit will undoubtedly force businesses to spread their net even wider and bring on board more recruitment agencies in order to access the right talent. But, beware of the complexity of these multiple agency deals, and ensure that all costs from agency to agency are scrutinised. The ability to offer solutions based on solid research and at low cost will be crucial in the next 12 to 18 months. In the same vein, providing the board with a clear understanding of the current recruitment market and the difficulties facing EU workers is essential.

3. Invest in the Cloud
Flexibility is key in an uncertain market. Using cloud-based services to increase agility and management of talent and agencies will help keep a lid on potentially spiralling costs. It can also provide the business with an insight into new opportunities as some sectors may benefit from Brexit. Certainly algorithmic-based recommendation and management platforms, as well as automated matching and alerts to any device have huge potential to add value. Trends towards ‘gig working’ have limited scope and are focussed on the lower end of the SME market.

4. Streamline processes and look closer to home
With Brexit potentially draining the already shallow talent pool, by restricting access to EU markets, it could provide an opportunity to re-evaluate recruitment process and agency relationships to ensure there is improved coverage of global talent. As well as increasing opportunity for graduate trainees. Recently, PathMotion conducted a survey of graduate recruiters who said if UK companies were unable to freely hire EU graduates as a result of Brexit, 25 per cent of employers would be likely to increase recruitment of British graduates. Having to look further afield to attract talent will mean a shift in policy if the business is not already looking outside of the EU. This is a chance to streamline procedures, reduce complexity and improve opportunities.

5. Brexit doesn’t have to mean Eurexit
Despite Brexit meaning Brexit, the UK is still part of Europe and will remain a popular destination for visitors and workers, however it will become more difficult to actually make it happen. It’s highly likely any trade agreements will involve some form of free movement between countries, but recruiters will need to keep track of new legislation and rule changes. And, those lawyers will once again be on hand to offer advice (and recruit!). However, any business and project plans will need to factor in the extra costs and complications associated with bringing in workers from EU countries in the future, and the legal advice to make this happen. 

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