Brexit cuts both ways for recruiters


Record levels of employment, Brexit and the ongoing skills shortage have resulted in increased business for recruiters in the last year, according to new research from independent financial services provider, Bibby Financial Services (BFS).

Nearly three-fifths (59%) of companies in the sector experienced improved business performance over the past 12 months, with nearly two thirds (63%) expecting revenues to increase in 2019.

The findings suggest that a combination of low unemployment, Brexit and skills shortages has seen an increasing number of UK businesses turn to recruiters to source candidates. Nearly two thirds (63%) said they had received more requests from employers as companies struggle to fill roles.

Sue Farmer, head of recruitment finance at Bibby Financial Services commented: “With high levels of employment, people are staying in jobs longer, and the skills shortage is exacerbated by Brexit, so it is no surprise that employers are struggling to source candidates on their own.

“But this is creating a perfect storm for recruiters, and challenging times lie ahead, despite their optimism. While recruiters have been in high demand this year, as the talent pool shrinks further, the skills shortage is becoming a threat to them too. Exactly half (50%) have already seen a decrease in the number of EU candidates applying for roles, a scenario that is likely to deteriorate in the coming months.”

As the skills and labour shortage worsens the research suggests the sector is experiencing a temporary boom, with 54% saying their biggest challenge over the next 12 months is a lack of skilled workers. Recruiters also noted the biggest shortages were in the IT, computing and technology (24%), construction (16%) and healthcare (15%) sectors.

The findings show that Brexit is a double-edged sword as the UK’s talent pool dries up, with almost three quarters (70%) believing the government needs to change its immigration policy for businesses to secure the talent they need. A further 57% agreed that a lack of free movement with the EU will result in UK businesses being unable to fill key roles.

Farmer added: “People are at the heart of the recruitment industry. Recruiters fear Brexit will result in businesses being unable to compete for the best talent internationally. To maintain business performance and increase investment next year, recruiters and those they serve need the government to provide clarity on what a purely skills-based immigration policy will deliver.”

“The proposals in the draft withdrawal agreement risk unfairly penalising low-skilled workers in certain sectors. Recruiters work with all kinds of businesses that require access to a wide range of skills; from engineers and software developers, to front of house at restaurants. Both high and low-skilled workers are valuable to our economy and the current policy could have a detrimental effect on sectors such as construction, social care and hospitality in the longer term.”