Brexit Begins

Let’s keep the jobs market strong says Tom Hadley, REC director of policy and professional services


And they’re off… The triggering of Article 50 set many hares a running but also focused minds on what the post-EU landscape might look like. Maintaining a dynamic and agile employment eco-system must be one priority, which is why our core policy mission remains the same: to work with policy makers to build the best jobs market in the world.

Access to staff and skills is an immediate concern. REC JobsOutlook shows 51% of employers expecting candidate shortages, with 78% reporting little or no spare capacity. Ramping up UK skills and driving inclusion are part of the solution, but we also need immigration policy to reflect labour market needs. Positioning our voice at the forefront of this debate is at the heart of the work we have just completed with leading law firm Fragomen and the Washington-based Migration Policy Institute (MPI).

Evening Standard columnist Antony Hilton recently made the point that, while politicians are focused primarily on Brexit, “there are greater challenges in jobs and education ahead”. This broader debate has been a recurring theme at recent member meetings. Case in point (your honour!) was the REC Legal & Financial Services meeting where specialist recruiters identified automation and AI as a greater threat to agencies supplying qualified legal staff than any post EU referendum uncertainty.

Speaking at the latest Interim Management Association (IMA) event, Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) underlined the potential for increased ‘platformitisation’ and labour market ‘dis-intermediation’. Is this where we are heading? Back in 2007, our Recruitment 2020 project with leading think tank Demos was bullish and concluded that “intermediaries have become hugely important; they tell us where to shop, who to do business with and who to hire”.  More recently, a conclusion from the World Employment Conference in New Delhi was that the pace of change will require more people to make sense of this constantly evolving employment landscape which could actually make the role of intermediaries more important.

The REC’s aim is not only to pre-empt forthcoming challenges, but to influence the direction of travel wherever we can. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “the best way to predict your future is to create it”.

You can follow Tom on Twitter @hadleyscomment

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