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Businesses look to UK talent as EU workers turn away

Brexit may be creating new opportunities for people in the UK, according to research from LinkedIn

Its analysis of its tens of millions of members revealed that the UK is becoming less attractive to jobseekers from the EU, potentially creating more opportunities for British nationals.

Page views of UK jobs by those in EU27 countries as a proportion of all international views of UK jobs have been in decline since the Brexit referendum, dropping further in the last year from 52% in the first quarter of 2018 to 47% in the first quarter of 2019.

The research also found that EU professionals migrating to the UK fell by 30% between 2016 and 2019. In the first three months of 2016 11 LinkedIn members moved to the UK from EU27 countries per 10,000 UK members. This fell to just 7.7 members per 10,000 UK members for the same period this year.

These findings are supported by those found in LinkedIn’s survey of 600 UK HR and talent professionals. More than two-fifths (43%) of respondents said the UK is less attractive to candidates from the EU since the referendum, and 60% said Brexit is negatively affecting the UK’s talent brand. Sixty-four per cent said Brexit is creating a skills gap in certain areas due to diminished access to international candidates.

Outward migration from the UK to non-EU countries has also been in decline, the analysis of platform data found, falling by 34% between 2016 and 2019, 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, which could be partly due to the high number of job opportunities available, as reported by the ONS.

HR and talent professionals stated that, now facing a perceived smaller talent pool and diminished access to EU professionals, many businesses are turning to new ways to compete for the best domestic UK talent. Three-quarters (75%) of respondents said they had seen an increase in businesses looking to source candidates from within the UK rather than internationally.

More than half (54%) said that businesses are increasing salary offers to hire the right people, and 43% said organisations are giving existing employees salary increases to prevent them looking elsewhere. Meanwhile benefits have also improved, with almost half (49%) saying that the businesses they work with are increasing their benefits offers such as pension contributions, and 41% are offering more flexible working opportunities.

There are also more opportunities for young people, with nearly half (45%) of talent professionals noting an increase in the number of graduate programmes on offer. A similar number (40%) noted a rise in internships.

Mariano Mamertino, senior economist at LinkedIn, commented that, while UK employment is high, the nation’s reputation as a good place to work has been tarnished.

“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,” he said.

"Fast-forward a few months and this may take an extra toll on British businesses that are already reporting skills shortages in certain areas.”

He added that, despite the challenges facing the UK, employers are now exploring overlooked talent pools.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

LinkedIn’s research included analysis of its platform data as well as a survey of 600 HR and talent professionals.