Is a devalued pound affecting the recruitment industry?

The once appealing prospect of EU nationals working in the UK to receive sterling pay, has been blighted by economic uncertainty. The pound has fallen more than 15% against the euro and around 21% against the Polish zloty since Britain voted to leave the EU, and it’s hindering employer’s abilities to fill vacancies.

Since 2003, the number of people born in other EU states living in Britain increased from 1.26 million to 3.68 million in 2017, according to Oxford University’s Migration Observatory. However, in the 12 months to March, net migration from all countries was 246,000, down 81,000 from the previous year – Reuters reports. Over half of that decrease was due to EU citizens leaving and fewer arriving since the Brexit vote, with the biggest fall among citizens of eight eastern European countries.

Citizens of the remaining European Union states face losing their right to live in Britain when it leaves the EU in March 2019. Paul Murphy, owner of Benton Recruitment agency, based in northwest England, told Reuters that if the Government doesn’t have a “proper plan in place, they could crash the economy.”

Furthermore, uncertainty is prompting recruitment agencies to dodge finding EU Nationals work. The Government Equalities Office is investigating growing evidence that EU jobseekers are being illegally prevented from getting jobs, with campaigners finding evidence that adverts have specified that candidates provide evidence of a UK passports – The Guardian reports.

Labour MP, Paul Blomfield, who is also the Junior Shadow Brexit Minister, commented: “I am sure that you would agree these reports are a cause for alarm, reflecting uncertainty across the business sector and discrimination experienced by EU nationals. The lack of detail forthcoming from the government is contributing to this climate of uncertainty and confusion.”

Sectors that rely heavily on EU nationals, such as hospitality, farming and construction, could suffer, with low-skilled workers expected to feel the brunt of the Government’s proposals on post-Brexit immigration policy, according to last week’s leaked Home Office whitepaper. The paper showed it is considering restricting migration from other EU states to all but the highest skilled workers.

Smaller firms are feeling the brunt of the labour shortage, with many turning to agencies to recruit for roles they used to fill easily themselves, raising salaries and offering more part-time hours. According to a report by the REC salaries rose at the fastest pace for two years in August. Despite this, a recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found total earnings are only 1.8% higher than this time last year.

Furthermore, with employment at its lowest rate in decades, there simply aren’t enough Britons to fill roles, Peter Gowers, Chief Executive of the Travelodge budget hotel group told the Mail on Sunday. “Even if the hotel industry recruited virtually every person on the unemployment register there wouldn’t be enough people to fill all the roles needed in the 10 years following Brexit,” he said.

For some employers, the ambitions to cut migration to the “the tens of thousands”, combined with economic uncertainty is disconcerting. However, is it a case of things need to get worse, to get better? Tell us your thoughts in the comments…

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