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Brexit inhibiting foreign interest in UK finance jobs

A staffing crisis in the financial sector may be on the horizon, as Brexit causes a decline in interest in City jobs

Foreign interest in UK banking jobs has fallen by 12% since 2015, according to Indeed.

Initially interest fell most sharply among prospective candidates from Europe. Between the first quarter of 2015 (when the likelihood of a referendum on the UK exiting the EU started to grow) and the first quarter of 2018, EU jobseekers’ share of all clicks on London finance jobs on the Indeed website fell from 7.8% to 5.9%.

Meanwhile, overall jobseeker interest from abroad remained relatively stable, with between 14% and 15% of clicks on those jobs coming from overseas.

Jobseekers from Australia, India and the US together contributed 3.5% of clicks in the second half of 2016. This is close to the 3.4% they contributed in the first quarter of 2015, before a commitment to holding a referendum on EU membership became official government policy.

However, these levels have also dropped over the past year. The share of clicks on London finance jobs coming from abroad has now fallen to under 13% in 2019. While this may seem like a small change from 14%/15%, it corresponds to tens of thousands of clicks that these jobs are not receiving each month, the research Indeed stated.

Employers recruiting finance talent are still heavily dependent on foreign jobseekers compared to a typical UK role, where only 3% of clicks come from abroad, or the typical London job, where 9% of clicks come from abroad.

Pawel Adrjan, UK economist at Indeed, warned that the net result is a significant shortfall in jobseekers looking to work in London’s banking sector: “London’s vast financial engine relies on a steady flow not just of global finance but of global talent too. Our data suggests that warnings of Brexit interrupting that flow of people were not just idle scaremongering.

“A fall in Europeans’ interest in working in the UK might have been expected but the fact that non-EU interest has now also declined, and is no longer offsetting the drop in EU jobseekers, could leave Britain’s financial sector exposed in the future."

However, the banking sector does continue to attract more foreign interest than the UK jobs market overall, researchers said. For the average UK vacancy advertised on Indeed, 3% of interest comes from foreign-based candidates. For financial sector jobs that proportion is more than four times higher, with 12.9% of interest coming from overseas talent.

Adrjan told HR magazine that the research indicates that the professional sector is also at risk of losing talent post-Brexit: “Most of the research around how Brexit will affect talent has so far concentrated on low-skilled work, but our research shows that high-skilled jobs rely a lot on international talent as well. It also shows that Brexit is having an effect on how workers from countries outside the EU view the UK. The fact that workers from all over the world no longer see the UK as an attractive place to work poses quite a few risks."

Adrjan advised employers to keep abreast of changes to immigration policies and focus on retaining their current workforce.

“It’s difficult to know how employers in the UK should proceed over Brexit given the lack of clarity over what will happen. However, they should make sure they are keeping up to date with any changes surrounding immigration law. Given the decline in sterling since the Brexit vote, they should also make sure they are making compensation as attractive as possible,” he said.

“Given the lower levels of interest from foreign workers employers in finance must look at retention closely. Flexible working for instance is one area where finance is still behind in comparison to other sectors.”