The summer of 2017 has not brought much in the way of certainty for the UK economy. Brexit may well be a polarising subject, but whatever your view on the UK’s membership of the EU, no UK citizen wants to see a weaker pound, price inflation and UK businesses starting to fail. However, these are already established trends or likely consequences.
As the UK government acts to execute the will of the majority of UK voters as expressed through the democratic process of the referendum, negotiations with Brussels are proving to be difficult. There’s not going to be clarity anytime soon and this is exacerbating the sense of uncertainty, for both consumers and businesses.
The vote for Brexit casts a long and very dark shadow over the successes of the government led by the ‘chumocracy’ of David Cameron and George Osbourne. It’s hardly surprising that Mr Cameron seems to have retreated into obscurity to become the ‘forgotten man’ of politics; he has no option other than to shoulder responsibility for a political miscalculation of the highest order.
On 24th August 2017, the Food and Drink Federation (FDA) speaking on behalf of the UK food industry warned that a third of the sector’s businesses could become unviable. Warning of “a rapidly approaching workforce shortage and skills gap,” the FDA survey of the ‘farm-to-fork’ supply chain said 31% of businesses had already seen EU workers leave the UK.
Other key survey data points include:
And it is not just what many perceive to be lower-level manual processing jobs in food production.
On 25th August, a survey of 2,000 EU citizens for auditors KPMG UK was published. This included 50 per cent of workers with PhDs, 39 per cent with postgraduate degrees and 52 per cent on higher incomes. When extrapolated across the entire workforce of 2.4 million from EU countries, it suggested that almost one million EU nationals in the UK are considering leaving in a ‘Brexit brain drain’.
In the midst of this, the implications for recruitment are significant. If 17% of ‘white collar’ and knowledge economy businesses mirrored the food sector and relocated overseas as well, this could produce a contraction in the recruitment sector of up to 1/6th.
It’s a sobering prospect, and it is easy to get swept away in the tide of negativity. However, the best advice for recruitment firms and their leaders is to get on with the things over which they have direct control, such as the efficient and effective running of their businesses.
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