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The landmark EU referendum held on 23 June 2016 changed the UK for everyone. In the two years since the vote, we have seen the stock market suffer, the pound plummet and the net migration of EU nationals to Britain fall.

Yet, while the impact of Brexit receives largely negative coverage in the media, there have been some positive outcomes. The weaker pound has stimulated international interest in UK products and services as a result of lower costs. It has also prompted an educated discord, in some quarters at least, about the UK’s relationship with Europe and our role in the wider world.

The impact of the decision, both positive and negative, has been felt in some way by every industry in the UK, and recruitment is no different. 

UK hiring has slowed

The latest figures from some of the UK’s largest recruiters show that hiring activity in the UK has slowed, with Brexit fears believed to be the reason many companies are deciding not to take on new staff. And it’s not only employers who are putting their recruitment plans on hold. Many employees are also purportedly delaying their job-hunting efforts until they have a clearer idea what the UK economy will look like once our separation from the EU is complete.  

Companies are moving to Europe

London’s financial sector has been one of the hardest hit by the downturn in recruitment activity, with recent figures showing hiring rates have halved. Instead, recruiters are having to concentrate their efforts on other European centres like Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris and Luxembourg when looking for new hires. That’s because those in the financial services sector are concerned the potential loss of ‘passporting rights’ may make it more difficult for London-based staff to provide services to European clients post-Brexit.   

Workers are moving to Europe

The number of applications from EU nationals for UK roles has also fallen, particularly from skilled professionals such as architects and those in the financial services sector. It is believed that concerns over their visa status are likely to be the main reason the number of applicants has dropped.

This issue is being exacerbated by the departure of EU nationals from the UK following the referendum vote, which is threatening to create skills shortages in a number of areas. It is hoped that an agreement on mutually recognised qualifications as part of the Brexit deal would go a long way to preventing a recruitment crisis for skilled roles. However, until the final shape of Brexit has been agreed, this is likely to be a factor in the reluctance of EU nationals wanting to set up home here.    

Low-skilled roles are becoming more difficult to fill

One area where the UK is heavily reliant on workers from the EU is to fill low-skilled roles in industries such as food manufacturing, warehousing, transport activities and social care. Recruiters and employers have faced significant challenges attracting UK workers into low-skilled roles due to the low rates of pay. Instead, EU workers have traditionally filled these roles. However, the falling value of the pound and tighter immigration controls are now starving these industries of the workers they need.

Some industries are feeling the pinch

Coffee shops, hospitals and education providers are three examples of organisations that have a high dependency on EU nationals and are now struggling to recruit the staff they need. Many EU nationals who come to the UK to study also work part-time in coffee shops and other food and beverage businesses. But, with fewer EU nationals coming to the UK, coffee shops are struggling to get the short-term staff they need.   

There have also been suggestions that the NHS is edging towards a nursing crisis, with The Guardian reporting that the number of nurses from the EU registering to work in the UK had fallen by 96% just one year after the Brexit decision.

Since the referendum, universities, schools and other education providers have also struggled to recruit. In fact, the Innovantage Brexit Barometer reveals that demand for teachers and lecturers has risen by 49% and 51% respectively since the referendum.   

It’s not all doom and gloom

This might make for depressing reading, but it’s not all bad news for the recruitment industry or UK workers. In the sectors most reliant on EU workers, demand for staff is continuing to increase, particularly in the temporary and contract markets. That means recruiters are having to work harder than ever to fill these roles. The result is that over three-quarters of recruitment professionals anticipate an increase in company revenue over the next year.  

How can we help?

Although Brexit is certainly having a marked impact on some parts of the recruitment market, here at DB Charles Recruitment, it’s very much business as usual. We’re busy providing a full recruitment service to our clients and helping candidates find rewarding and well-paid roles. To find out more, please get in touch with our team.