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Brexit: a Zero-sum Game for UK and EU Recruiters3 min read

February 22, 2019 3 min read

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Brexit: a Zero-sum Game for UK and EU Recruiters3 min read

Reading Time: 3 minutes

While no one can predict the outcome of Brexit, economic uncertainty is creating recruitment opportunities in the EU. London has been the world’s financial capital for centuries, but many of its banks are now looking for a new EU headquarters. The financial services industry currently employs 2.2 million people across the UK and contributes 12.5% of GDP.

With the announcement that Barclays Bank, BlackRock, and JPMorgan Chase will join the Bank of America and Citigroup in sending thousands of employees to Europe, there are recruitment opportunities for the EU 27 with Brexit looming.

Brexit UK Europe

How is Brexit affecting UK recruitment

Brexit is already impacting on the UK recruitment industry, especially its finance and tech sectors. Frankfurt Main Finance, a German lobby group, claims that between €750 billion to €800 billion in financial assets and an estimated 10,000 finance jobs will move to Frankfurt before the end of March 2019.

Not only are thousands of investment banking jobs moving to the EU, but there also reported staff cuts in British manufacturing firms while the UK’s tech industry is also undergoing a realignment process. Many British startups are now looking for EU-based locations to maintain their current recruitment capabilities and capital.

Such is the political volatility at Westminster it’s impossible to say whether Britain will delay Article 50, prepare for a “soft Brexit,” or crash out without a deal. If there were a “No Deal” Brexit trading on World Trade Organisation terms, then it would have profound economic consequences for the UK economy, with GDP potentially shrinking by up to 8%, putting hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk.

How can recruiters prepare for Brexit

According to a recent LinkedIn report, 39% of UK recruiters have found EU candidates reluctant to move to Britain. Given the current lack of certainty regarding freedom of movement and drop in the value of Sterling, Britain has arguably lost its appeal. The global accountancy firm BDO came to the same conclusion. Suggesting Britain has dropped from the second most popular destination for EU workers to sixth, behind the US, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and Spain.

Speaking on their findings, Paul Eagland, Managing Partner at BDO said: “UK businesses are already struggling with a skills shortage. It’s imperative that the (British) Government makes it clear to the world that the UK is still a great place to do business, and that we continue to attract the world’s brightest and best to our country”.

UK businesses currently rely on EU-born employees to maintain not only the quality of their workforce but also supplement and support entire industries. British agriculture and healthcare sectors now rely on EU workers to function effectively.

Since the 2016 referendum, there has been a significant fall in EU nationals coming to Britain, which coincided with a reported drop in ‘skilled’ applications, with EU-born workers coming to the UK falling by 95%. Under pressure to hire skilled European employees, UK recruiters will have to provide relocation packages after Brexit. With work visas required it won’t be as easy for someone from Italy, Spain or Sweden to work in Britain as things currently stand.

Such is the uncertainty around Brexit, neither small or large businesses know what’s likely to happen and neither do the experts. One thing UK firms can do is ensure their EU workers are aware they might be eligible for British citizenship or settled status. Applying for visas and residency rights is likely to be a complex and lengthy process, so offering to take care of the admin, will help retain staff going forward.

British recruiters will have to innovate to stay ahead of the competition. Higher salaries relocation packages will become crucial in enticing and retaining top talent. As if doubts are allowed to linger, many UK companies face losing European employees to the EU 27, during this period of political and economic uncertainty.

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