Hiring managers hit by Brexit uncertainty

As the prime minister cancels the crucial MPs' vote on her Brexit deal, hiring concerns have mounted for businesses

Brexit has directly affected access to skills for two in five (39%) managers, a survey by Guidant Global has revealed.

It found that a further 25% of hiring manager respondents anticipate that the UK’s exit from the Union will have a negative impact on skills availability in the near future.

When quizzed on their ‘wish lists’ for post-Brexit migration policy, 24% believed that clarity on immigration rules ‘at the earliest possible opportunity’ was crucial, while 23% said that retaining free movement of labour within the European Economic Area would be advantageous.

A further 14% indicated that highly-skilled workers should be prioritised, while 11% believed that the current Shortage Occupation List should be reviewed. One in 10 (10%) said that salary thresholds for Tier 2 visas should be reconsidered.

Other suggested measures to ease a shortfall of skills included: extending the Tier 5 youth mobility scheme to cover shortages in unskilled labour, abolishing the Tier 2 visa cap, and relaxing the Tier 1 entrepreneurship route. These options were favoured by 5%, 3% and 2% of respondents respectively.

The research comes as prime minister Theresa May called off today’s vote on her Brexit deal, after concern that it would be “rejected by a significant margin”. May said in a statement that her peers had expressed concern over the Northern Irish backstop.

She said she would be speaking to EU leaders ahead of a summit later this week, and that she would also be "looking closely at new ways of empowering the House of Commons to ensure that any provision for a backstop has democratic legitimacy".

A new policy paper from the Department for Exiting the European Union published at the end of last week set out how EU workers would need to apply for settled status in the event of a no-deal scenario.

If a deal is agreed there is an implementation period that gives EU citizens until the end of December 2020 to apply for settled status. But if the UK leaves the EU without a deal only EU citizens who can prove residency on 29 March 2019 will be able to apply for settled status, the paper suggested.

Simon Blockley, managing director EMEA at Guidant Global, said that despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit there must be policies that help businesses to grow.

“The current climate of uncertainty around Brexit is concerning on several levels. However, one thing is crystal clear: it is vital that future policy enables UK businesses to access the talent they need to thrive,” he said.

“It has been widely documented that many UK businesses are finding it increasingly challenging to source the skills they need to prosper – and it is unsurprising that a significant proportion of employers are noting the effects of slumping net migration from the EU on the ground.”

Guidant Global surveyed 1,500 hiring managers in the UK.