Brexit: creating opportunities for UK talent amid EU worker exodus

Three quarters of recruiters say businesses are looking to source candidates from within the UK, rather than internationally.

UK-based businesses are turning to UK talent to mitigate the impact of Brexit, as the number of EU professionals coming into the UK falls… by a third to be exact.

But, every cloud…

Because of this EU worker exodus, there are signs that this may be contributing to the creation of new opportunities for workers already in the UK — according to new analysis by LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s Workforce Insights report, released today, includes an analysis of the job searching behaviour and international migration of LinkedIn members, and a survey of 600 UK recruiters.

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With Brexit on the brink of reality, the talent debate is intensifying, with many UK businesses increasingly concerned that the already small pool of IT and digitally-skilled professionals will shrink even further.

UK less attractive to EU27 workers

Unsurprisingly, the UK continues to become relatively less attractive to job seekers from the EU: the share of international views of UK jobs that come from EU 27 countries, which declined after the referendum vote, continues to fall — dropping from 52% in Q1 2018 to 47% in Q1 2019.

According to LinkedIn’s analysis of its tens of millions of members across the EU, in the three year period since Q1 2016, migration of professionals from other EU countries to the UK has fallen by 30%.

In the first three months of 2016 11 LinkedIn members moved to the UK from the EU 27 countries, per 10,000 UK members. This had fallen to 7.7 members per 10,000 UK members for the same period this year.

These statistics are backed up by sentiment among UK recruiters: 43% of respondents say the UK is less attractive to candidates from the EU since the referendum, and 60% say Brexit is negatively impacting the UK’s talent brand.

And, 64% say Brexit is creating a skills gap in certain areas due to diminished access to international candidates.

Mariano Mamertino, senior Economist at LinkedIn, commented: “Take a closer look at the robust employment numbers from the ONS and you will see a labour market getting close to working at full capacity. At the same time, our analysis shows a continued drop in the share of EU professionals interested in jobs in the UK, and a drop in those moving here, while recruiters are consistently reporting that the perception of the UK as a good place to find work has been hit. Fast forward a few months and this may take an extra toll on British businesses that are already reporting skills shortages in certain areas.”

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Opportunities for UK talent

Between 2016 and 2019, outward migration from the UK to countries outside the EU has also fallen.

According to the report, there has been a 34% drop in UK to non-EU migration, from 19.7 to 12.9 members per 10,000. UK residents who may have left in the past, appear to be staying in the country, and this may be partly due to the high number of job opportunities available, as reported by the ONS.

Three quarters (75%) of respondents report an increase in businesses looking to source candidates from within the UK, rather than internationally

Faced with a perceived smaller talent pool and diminished access to EU professionals, recruiters report that many businesses are already exploring new ways to compete for the best domestic UK talent:

• Salaries are rising in response to talent shortages: half (54%) of recruiters report that businesses are increasing salary offers to hire the right people, and 43% report that businesses are giving existing employees salary increases to prevent them looking elsewhere.

• Improved benefits: almost half of respondents (49%) report that businesses they work with are increasing benefit offers, such as pension contributions, and 41% are offering candidates more flexible working opportunities in order to make their organisations more attractive to potential candidates.

• Opportunities for young people: nearly half (45%) of talent professionals are seeing an increase in the number of graduate programmes on offer, while a similar number (40%) have noticed a bump in the number of internships.

Mamertino continued: “In the long term, talent shortages risk making the UK less competitive, but for now there is evidence to suggest that businesses are responding to the talent shortages by increasing their focus on the workforce already here in the UK. This includes extending their search into sometimes neglected pools of labour, including the young, the old, and those who have left the workforce. Recent ONS data shows how this is also contributing to increased female employment – which is the highest it has ever been – and more students and young people in the workforce too.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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