The Brexit Impact on Employment

With such a focus over Christmas and the new year the passage of the Brexit trade arrangements has passed almost under the radar, but the impact has been quietly significant.

Had there been a no deal exit it is likely that we would have seen two immediate reactions at both ends of the employment spectrum. A no deal would have led many companies already struggling with the trading consequences of the pandemic to take immediate cost reduction decisions that would have resulted in job losses. At the other end of the spectrum, those companies who trade regularly with the European community would have had to re-enforce their supply chain resources with project leaders to support a confused and emerging picture. Thankfully both scenarios became unnecessary. But what are the early implications post Brexit.

1 Confidence in an Uncertain World

With the UK and many European countries riding the last stages of the pandemic the conclusion of stage one trade talks has provided a certainty to the market and with it an underlying confidence. There will be many for whom the first few months will require adjustment but the certainty the deal has brought has engendered a confidence to focus on people resource planning at a level we have not seen since 2018.

2 Latent Supply and Demand

Many organisations slowed people investment plans and organisational design changes as the new arrangements were being negotiated. 2019 was a stop start year of four quarters that ultimately led to slower decision making and lower risk hiring. This has undoubtedly caused a log jam in recruitment and restructuring that is now showing signs of being addressed.

3 Uncertainty of Pan European Executive Hires

Throughout the Brexit negotiation period a focus, rightly, was placed on freedom of vocational movement. The pandemic has perhaps masked the true impact that this will have for example on the hospitality industry, particularly in London, which draws on the talents of many European colleagues. But the question that is beginning to emerge is more at the senior end of the recruitment supply chain and the balance of opportunity and impediment to senior executives who currently live in Europe. Ongoing travel restrictions combined with developing bureaucracy around contracts and reward means that this is one of the key questions to clearly define in 2021.

4 Vocational Hubs

Again, much of the talk since 2016 has been the retention of London as a major financial hub. The lack of clear sight of an end game has made planning difficult for many but during 2017 and into 2018 there was clear evidence that hubs of expertise were being developed across Europe that would perhaps dilute the focus on the UK and London in particular. One such area of focus was the emergence of the Netherlands and Amsterdam in particular as a centre of excellence for marketing and creative services. Progress in these areas slowed in 2019 and 2020 but from a career perspective this is a big watch this space for us.

So against a year of turmoil we have some much needed consistency. We truly believe that against many negative commentaries, 2021 will be an exciting career for jobs and for careers.

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