Inevitably many factors associated with Britain’s exit from the European Union are impacting on the country’s workforce and employment market, and effectiveness of recruitment techniques.
Planning to go
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently conducted a review which showed 7% of the UK workforce is from Europe which equates to approx. 2.2 million workers. According to a survey by KPMG, it seems that half of these people are considering or have already made plans to leave Britain. The survey also shows that the perceived change in view of British society has led to these individuals feeling less welcome in Britain and that this is their main reason for leaving.
Despite this Britain remains in the top 5 desirable EU countries for those workers likely to supply labour work, although 49% have said Britain is less desirable following the referendum.
Employment rises – but so do vacancies
Perhaps unexpectedly then, the overall number of EU nationals employed in the UK rose in the year to September 2017 by 112,000 people (compared to the same period in 2016). This was largely driven by Romanian and Bulgarian nationals who accounted for 90,000 of those people. However, the number of Polish and other east European nationals decreased. (This may have more to do with the 20% increase in the value of the euro and the Polish zloty against the pound, rather than because of any hostility that Brexit may have caused.)
Interest rates and increased salaries to match
Other factors resulting in change include the anticipation of a Brexit related employment plunge, which is expected to push up salaries. The Bank of England gave this as one of the key reasons for the recent increase in interest rates, the first rise in 10 years.
EU citizens rights in Britain
Theresa May announced EU member state citizens who have lived in Britain legally for 5 years or more, will be able to apply for a ‘settled status’, designed to allow most people to remain. For employers, this will mean that EU citizens will be able to provide a document with which they may prove their “settled status” and associated rights. This has not done much to influence the decision on staying or going as it is reported affected citizens feel that the proposals on their rights made no difference to their thinking about whether to stay or not.
How does this impact on recruitment and what industries are affected most?
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) reported that we are in a strange period where both demand for candidates has substantially increased and overall employment levels are significantly higher too. The Chief Executive of the REC stated:
“It’s clear that employers are having to work even harder to fill jobs as vacancies rise and candidate availability shrinks. UK employment remains at an all-time high and looks set to keep improving. The parts of the economy most reliant on European workers are under even more pressure as many EU workers return home. Employers are not just struggling to hire the brightest and the best but also people to fill roles such as chefs, drivers and warehouse workers.”
In terms of industries immediately affected by a shrinking talent pool, the REC also identified a sharp increase in demand for candidates in engineering, financial, IT, hospitality, nursing and care sectors. Further to the ONS review, the Huffington Post also identify five types of EU workers ‘we may never see again, thanks to Brexit’; these being fruit and vegetable pickers, coffee baristas, London based builders, leading academics and nurses.
The ‘marked decline’ in available candidates is seeing many employers speak publicly about their concerns already including the Royal College of Nursing, Pret a Manger and Jaguar Land Rover.
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