Brian Stahelin of Stafflex Recruitment reflects on the impact of Brexit for West Yorkshire’s jobs market
Some of us will be able to remember the exact moment when we first heard about John Lennon’s death. A few of us will remember JFK passing away too. How many of us will remember waking up on Friday 24th June 2016 to find out that we had voted to exit the EU? Such was the importance of the decision to our lives, that most of us had one of those ‘OMG’ moments rarely experienced by such a large number of people in such unison.
Fast forward a matter of ten days or so and the impact is just beginning to take effect. Politicians are resigning quicker than you can say ‘Oh dear Boris, what have you done this time’, and the nation has turned into one big bar room full of wannabe David Dimblebys. The nation is buzzing with speculation and accusation, served up as a delicious response in part to the sour tasting exit experienced by the familiar demise of yet another England football team from yet another major championship.
Like most responsible recruitment agencies, Stafflex subscribes to a host of information resources. We are members of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB); all our staff are Associates of the Institute of Recruitment Professionals (IRP) and we subscribe religiously to various data providers each delivering a range of data specific to our highly competitive marketplace.
We are also regular users of surveys and opinion polls. All this helps us, we believe, to understand the marketplace and plan effectively for the highs and lows of providing a workforce to our hundreds of clients.
And so, what does our #Brexit mean to Stafflex and our clients?
We have three distinct stakeholder groups, each with some cause to be concerned, perhaps, about the future impact of this momentous decision. Here are our thoughts:
Like all recruitment agencies, Stafflex exists as a direct response to market needs. And as with most industries, patterns have been seen before and cyclical trends are an aspect of their world. The decision to exit the EU should actually result in more demand for recruitment services as companies adjust their workforce to accommodate the changing business environment in which they operate. Lack of business confidence usually manifests in a drive to reduce ‘fixed-costs’, thereby increasing the need for temporary labour.
Candidates, or ‘job-seekers’ may well be disrupted by the changes due to take place in the medium to long term. Opportunities in the full-time, permanent market are possibly going to be fewer than they have been over the recent past as exporters especially come to terms with whatever trading prejudices impact on the UK as the rest of the EU club together. Industry surveys, however, are suggesting that the ‘temporary’ labour markets are likely to prosper as the reshuffle brings about the need for companies to switch to a more flexible work force. Wage rises are incredibly difficult to predict, but the mood in the industry suggests that the pressure on keeping interest rates low will also determine a stagnant or even decrease in average wage levels.
Clients, or ‘employers’, are rightly nervous about what happens next. Those with glasses half full are predicting a demise of the EU as countries like Holland and Norway follow us and leave. This, they predict, will result in improved trading conditions as the UK regains its confidence and trades at its optimum levels for the first time since joining the EU. Others, mainly those who voted to ‘remain’, are predicting an era of unprecedented turmoil. Political instability in the UK will lead to weaker terms being negotiated as Article 50 is implemented. Stock market activities suggest that the worst of the upheaval is over for now, as does the relative calm on the exchange front as the pound regains some of its losses against the dollar and the euro.
All in all, it’s been an unprecedented period of turmoil resulting in some overall lack of confidence. If the new Prime Minister and heads of the powerful governing bodies such as the Bank of England and the CBI can counter some of the negativity caused by the shock result and, let’s face it, the inevitable political fall outs (though who would have predicted Boris and Farage both resigning!), then the recruitment industry is predicting a positive future especially for those who embrace flexible working practices.I