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What Does Brexit Really mean for the Recruitment Industry?

Television adverts namedropping the word ‘Brexit’ and the daily debates in the House of Commons. There is no ignoring the fact that there is a lot of debate about the effect Brexit will have on the UK – particularly on the labour market. This blog explores the possible effects Brexit could have on Recruiting staff and whether these are potentially negative or positive.

Possible Effects:

Increased difficulty for employers in finding staff – a study completed in Summer 2019 shows that 67% of employers said they were finding it difficult to fill vacancies compared with 51% in Spring 2017. The Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) have suggested these numbers have increased since the result of the UK referendum on EU membership.

UK Employer Willingness to hire EU Nationals – It is not entirely clear whether UK employers will be discouraged from hiring EU nationals. Early polls in 2018 suggest that most businesses are continuing to employ EU nationals. This may not necessarily be due to defiance of Brexit – it may be that they are simply not considering nationality when hiring or are struggling to fill unskilled vacancies with UK nationals.

Effect on Job Security – As the UK’s exit from the EU approaches it is speculated that EU migrants will start fearing for their job security. As a result, UK employers may develop low confidence in retaining EU nationals over the coming years.

Will Brexit have a negative effect on the Recruitment industry?

Brexit could have a negative effect on the Recruitment industry because it is significantly reducing the talent pool in the UK. 2.27 million members of the UK workforce were born in an EU country. In the event of the right of free movement of EU nationals being removed as part of the Brexit deal EU nationals may no longer feel welcome in UK companies or may need sponsorship to change roles. This will make more ‘niche’ or skilled positions harder for Recruiters to fill as employers will only except British citizens or those whole hold Indefinite Leave to remain (ILR). In addition, UK employers may begin to upskill British workers to fill skills shortages left by Brexit.

Employers will therefore have to resort to recruiting internally rather than advertising positions externally. This will lead to less positions being released to Recruiters.

On the other hand, it could have the effect of increasing the talent pool for Recruiters. If the right of free movement is revoked, then 2.27 million members of the UK workforce will require sponsorship to work in the UK. Employers may then start to offer sponsorship for roles that require skilled workers. This allows Recruiters to put a wider range of candidates forward to roles, increasing the number of placements made. Also, the skills shortages could pave the way for employers to recruit from a wider range of underrepresented groups such as older workers or those from ethnic minorities. This could have the positive influence of making the UK labour market more diverse.


After looking at the possible (and quite probable) effects Brexit could have on the Recruitment industry we can see employers may start and find it difficult to fill skilled positions and may need to reassure EU national employees of their job security. This may not necessarily be bad for the Recruitment industry as there will be a wider range of roles open to Recruiters. However, these positions may carry an increased difficulty finding candidates that are fully eligible to work in the UK.

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