With the impending EU referendum just a little over a month away, many people in the UK are still uncertain about what will happen, and how they will be affected by the decision to stay or go. These concerns are even further amplified for business owners. So what would a Brexit potentially mean?
The figure for non-UK nationals in the UK has increased from just over one million in 1997 to 3.2 million, reflecting the admission of several new member states to the European Union, states the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Non-UK nationals from the EU working in Britain increased by 215,000 to just over two million in the last quarter of 2015 compared with a year earlier.
As a recruitment agency, this data can be viewed as positive or negative depending on your target market. Let’s dissect this issue further to see if we can pinpoint the primary areas of concern.
The brain drain
The most obvious anxiety for the UK labour market will be the departure of highly skilled European workers. This would put constraints on the UK labour force to perform to the same level as before Brexit, but with fewer resources. This shortage will be especially noticeable in specific sectors such as the scientific field where much of the funding for research is actually provided by EU initiatives. At the moment, it’s a give and take relationship with the EU providing a lot of scientific funding while the UK does the research and innovation. Loss of research funding will also result in the decline of university grants. According to Nature.com, “UK universities rely on the EU for around 16% of their total research funding. And scientists working in the United Kingdom are disproportionately successful at winning such awards compared to applicants in other member states; under the EU’s last Framework Programme, which ran from 2007 to 2013, they won grants worth €7 billion (US$7.58 billion), second in value only to Germany. UK institutions also host more researchers with grants from the EU-funded European Research Council (ERC) than those in any other member state.”
This can have a trickle-down effect that will eventually damage the quality of teaching and learning at British universities. Of course, it’s important to note that this is only one opinion, and nothing will be known until and if the UK departs the EU.
One of the most advantageous qualities of being in the EU is the freedom it allows fellow citizens to travel freely between countries. If a recruiter wants to recruit workers from the UK and Europe, they only need to abide by one set of regulations; extremely convenient when you consider that Europe has over 500 million potential candidates. Brexit could potentially not only reduce the selection pool for both countries but it also raises the issue of changing immigration policies for all the different countries in Europe. The government may come up with a solution to this however, it’s imperative to at least consider that things could become much more complicated for recruiters if the UK decides to exit.
We would love to hear your opinion of how you feel Brexit would improve or enhance your recruitment agency business – both established and those just entering into it. Let us know how you feel about it.