The future is…?

The future is…?

At this time of year experts are usually keen to predict what the next twelve months hold for the UK job market and economy. However, with so much uncertainty around Brexit, few are sticking their heads above the parapet to share their opinion.
An undercurrent of uncertainty is flowing across UK workplaces, according to recent research by Investors in People, who found that almost half of respondents would rather have job security than a 3% pay rise.

Anxiety around this issue looks to be motivating employees to find new roles, which is good for the recruitment industry; January being a traditional time for people to move jobs may also be a reason why 45% of employees admitted to actively looking for a new position. Trust was another component: only 5% of those surveyed believe that their bosses and leaders will look after them if everything goes south in a few months.

In recent years the gig economy has enjoyed a surge, but as the UK workforce speculates over what their options will be, the popularity of this type of working has waned, in favour of security and permanent positions.

The survey showed that more than a quarter believe that Brexit will negatively impact their job – which is a 3% rise from last year. Perhaps, after almost two years of ‘what ifs?’ from the experts, people may be able to see for themselves that change is imminent.

In recent years, salary increments have, on average, exceeded expectations; in 2018 wages rose faster than inflation to a three-year high – fuelled further, no doubt, by companies keen to keep valued staff in hard-to-fill roles. The I.T. industry in particular appears to be bucking the trend; whilst all other sectors saw fewer professionals securing roles, hires within I.T. increased by 4% last year.

Whatever the next twelve months have in store, the last year saw the recruitment industry go from strength to strength. 59% of agencies reported an increase in trade, and demand for candidates continues to outstrip supply. This optimism may be threatened, however, by a shortage of skills across a number of sectors, particularly if changes in EU employment laws reduce the UK’s talent pool. At various points in their negotiations, the government has claimed that the UK “will allow free movement for skills workers”; whether this proves to the case we will no doubt learn soon enough.

Employers have reason to be concerned about the Brexit deal (or no deal), given that a quarter of all UK firms employ staff from the EU. A survey from August 2018 showed that 50% of bosses would be “put off” hiring workers from the EU if immigration laws changed. Though the plans around ‘settled status’ should protect those already in the UK working for British companies, there’s not the same depth of planning for recruiting EU nationals once 29th March has passed. The hiring strategies of many companies has already been impacted by Brexit, despite negotiations changing by the minute.

There’s always a solution, though. Some experts believe such fears amount to no more than hot air. Suggesting that recruiters and employers ramp up their remuneration and benefit packages so that they retain good staff, these experts also see Brexit as an opportunity to increase the skills of UK workers – which have been lacking for a while, and a problem that’s worse in some sectors more than others.

They also remind those worrying over the fallout of Brexit that the world is a big place - and that there are plenty more fish in (or across) the sea…

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