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Lottie Sharland30 Jan 2019
  • Brexit
  • Industry News
  • Insight

How Will Brexit Affect Recruitment?

With Brexit Day fast approaching and still no real answer in sight, 2019 has started with a level of political uncertainty few of us have seen in our lifetime. The question on everyone’s lips is how the deal (or lack of) will affect them and what we should be doing to prepare and make our exit from Europe as smooth as possible. But what does this mean for recruitment?


The truth is, we just don’t know. While we were fearful of the impact of the initial vote; and with good reason, hiring figures took a sharp drop directly after the Brexit vote in May 2017, our 2018 figures were up 30% and 2019 has started extremely strongly. While confidence was low, it’s climbing back up and as no one quite knows what’s going to happen it seems the consensus where hiring within the UK is concerned is to carry on as normal.

Overseas workers

However, this is only true of companies that predominantly hire from within the UK and have their offices based here too. As Brexit negotiations continue, some recruiters have reported a negative impact on international hiring into the UK. With a report by LinkedIn stating a decrease in hiring from core European markets; with 37 percent of recruiters seeing a decrease from Italy, 35 percent from France, 35 percent from Germany, 32 percent from the Netherlands, 29 percent from Spain and 33 percent from the other 27 EU countries over the last quarter*. Whichever free movement policy is ultimately negotiated, Norway: relatively open, vs Switzerland: more restricted, upheaval is inevitable. As a result, this will affect the number and quality of candidates recruiters, and employers, have access to.

Upselling, Hiring from within, Diversity

The fear is that we’ll be left with a skills shortage in the UK, lacking talent in sectors that have previously relied upon European workers to make up our domestic shortage. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom and Jon Addison, Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, states that UK companies need to, ‘make more of what you already have; think about how you could upskill your existing team to ensure that your business is well-equipped to navigate the more competitive external hiring landscape. Think learning and development first’. Many companies who hire from abroad are expected to think about upskilling their existing employees or potentially looking to more diverse groups of society that they might not have considered before.

Workers’ rights

We don’t have much information on what will happen long term where workers rights are concerned, current EU legislation on workers’ rights is due to be imported wholesale into British law and although there will be amendments made in the future, it is likely that the majority of existing policies will remain unchanged in the short term. Long term, this could be an opportunity for the UK to forge ahead with a radical new approach to employment law embracing work-life balance, equality in the workplace and social inclusivity.


We have noted a sharp increase in temps and contract work and we expect this to continue. While companies consider their Brexit plans some are choosing to hire contract staff or long-term temps rather than permeant employees. And while this does suggest uncertainty it doesn’t indicate a lack of available work.


Our view is that the future is uncertain, but it’s certainly bright. Our figures speak for themselves and while Brexit is a concern for many of our clients, it’s not holding them back from hiring and it’s not holding employees back from changing jobs. Other talent professionals agree: 71 percent feel ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident about their ability to recruit the right talent and for those who have seen an increase in hiring (ourselves among them), the main reasons behind this have been: business growth (56 percent); more vacancies (45 percent); more suitable candidates on the market (32 percent); and sector specific needs (28 percent).*

We’re monitoring the situation where Brexit is concerned closely and will be updating all our clients and candidates on any changes that will affect them, especially where employment rights and the UK Settlement Scheme are concerned.

*John Addison, Brexit Impact Dominating Recruitment Strategies, 1st May 2018, https://www.thehrdirector.com/business-news/brexit/brexit-impact-recruitment-strategies/, (Accessed 24th Jan 2019)