How Are Brexit Uncertainties Affecting the Senior Recruitment Market?

Guest Blog from Summer Fisher

Brexit continues to have a significant impact on the recruitment industry, with many companies now postponing the hiring of senior staff. It seems that the lack of a solid Brexit deal heading towards the March deadline date has caused senior executives from a wide range of industries to stay put. Recruitment enterprises have experienced a slowdown in senior recruitment in the UK, even as business continues to go well for the rest of Europe. Given these developments, it would be easy to deduce that businesses operating in the UK lack confidence in the post-Brexit economy.

Alternatively, there's a likelihood that companies might be holding off key decisions until after the Brexit exit strategy is finalised. After all, filling in senior staff is an important process, as they are likely to play more prominent roles in any business.

Other recruiters have a more positive view on this matter. Recruitment firm Robert Walters Group claims that Brexit actually boosted the demand for skilled professionals, including IT experts, lawyers, and accountants. Their research reveals that the number of open jobs in accountancy and finance increased by 41%. And according to them, the demand subsequently drove an increase in permanent contracts signed in the UK. The group's CEO, in fact, has been particularly bullish about Brexit, explaining that there are “very strong opportunities as a consequence [of Brexit].”

The most affected sectors are those that employ a significant share of EU nationals — hospitality, architecture, and health care to name three. Already, there are various rumblings that current recruiters are now unlikely to encounter EU nationals looking to work in senior positions in the UK, especially when Brexit negotiations are still ongoing. It’s worth considering that many EU citizens who currently hold positions, some in executive jobs, are also thinking of resigning. Results from a RIBA study found that 60% of UK-based architects surveyed</a> have seriously thought about leaving the country. This can be worrisome, as around 80% of architectural firms prioritise access to international talent and skills.

But as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) notes the UK government has explicitly stated that it will introduce migration restrictions that will “focus on attracting ‘the brightest and best’ EU nationals to the UK.” It will help ensure that key positions in said industries will not be left vacant during or after Brexit. Moreover, the CIPD states that rather than fret about this impending divorce from the EU, companies will be better served if they take the initiative. Workforce planning strategies must be implemented to ensure that their businesses “have the resources they need to successfully negotiate the coming changes.”

These concerns, of course, seem to reflect the bigger problem caused by Brexit on the entire UK economy, as growing concerns over a post-Brexit UK have impacted the value of the GBP. FXCM explained how volatile the pound sterling became amidst the Brexit transition process, with its price frequently dropping and rising due to key events. The result of the Brexit vote in particular led to a 10% decrease in the value of the GBP as compared to the USD, a drop similar only to the aftermath of World War II and Black Wednesday. The subsequent valuations since the transition progressed have been like a rollercoaster ride.

Then again, it would be erroneous to look at only one side of the Brexit economic spectrum, especially since the other side paints a more optimistic outlook. In an op-ed piece on the economic impact of Brexit, British Chambers of Commerce director general John Longworth argues that the economic impact of breaking free from the EU would be huge, provided that we do not spend too much time on “fruitless negotiations.” Instead we should focus all our energy “to looking forward, preparing for our freedom and the opportunity to be a vibrant, free-trading, enterprise nation.”

As for the current situation in recruitment, our very own, CEO Paul Rayner believes that the best recruiters will always find ways to address the talent shortage, especially for senior positions. As a “market”, it’s our habit to come up with an organised approach to the best talent and recruiters together. Brits have undeniable energy and ingenuity, and when we put our minds to it, we can work towards a bright future, regardless of the final deal made with the EU.