The Intelligence: Employers' confidence

Recruiters can help to make post-Brexit Britain a success

Almost two years after the EU referendum took place in the UK, the country is now only weeks away from the date originally set for leaving the EU. And the growing uncertainty has been reflected by REC data, which every month has shown employers’ heightened concerns and declining confidence levels in the prospects for the UK economy.  

Amid the December 2018 deadlock in Westminster and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit looming, the start of 2019 signalled a particularly worrying time for UK businesses. At the time of writing, employers’ confidence in economic conditions further deteriorated by 2 percentage points to net -14. While remaining positive, employers’ confidence in making hiring and investment decisions declined by a notable 5 percentage points. This was the lowest level recorded since February 2018 (‘JobsOutlook’, January 2019).

The UK’s economic strength is built on companies being able to do great business. But there are widespread reports that persistent candidate and skills shortages are hampering overall growth. Sectors such as healthcare, hospitality and accounting stand out as areas experiencing most acute skills shortages.

Notwithstanding these challenges, the recruitment industry has a crucial role to play in supporting employers identify and maximise opportunities for growth and, in doing so, making post-Brexit Britain a success.

Central to the efforts to ensure the long-term health of the UK jobs market are effective workforce planning and improved workplace training. Whatever the UK’s future relationship with the EU and beyond, recruiters are uniquely placed to support employers in workforce planning and with advice on how to upskill their existing workforce, as well as establishing close links with education authorities.

The rise of AI and automation is another important area where recruiters can help employers – they can support their clients in embracing technological innovation and identifying and developing new skills required among their workforce. Good use of technology will help businesses be more efficient in their operations and become more competitive.

There is ample evidence that more diverse organisations and leadership teams, in terms of gender, age and ethnicity, outperform competitors with homogenous teams. In light of the growing shortage of workers, it is essential that employers take every action to ensure that their workplace is inclusive of everyone and make the most of all the talent available. By excluding the participation of any groups in the labour force, businesses risk being left behind competitors. Recruiters can help employers evaluate their hiring practices and reconsider their workplace culture to create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Indeed, recruiters are best placed to match talent and skills to the right job. By helping their clients implement good, inclusive practices alongside digital innovation and investment in infrastructure, they can help UK businesses boost productivity and, in turn, increase profitability.

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