As with every business sector, the recruitment industry has not been immune to the initial reaction to the Brexit vote. While some businesses have done better from the fall of sterling, recruitment has been among those sectors that has experienced a significant slowdown in the months following the Referendum, with a job market already plagued by a talent shortage. Since the vote, would-be candidates have been exercising greater caution over the decision on whether to change jobs, and especially over the kinds of companies or sectors that they consider to be the safest to move to in these more uncertain times.
Part of the problem is an increased concern over job security over the next two years, as nobody can be certain what the final Brexit deal will entail. It’s not just UK based candidates who have the jitters – candidates from around the EU are becoming more cautious about taking up a new post in the UK, especially in the historically attractive financial services sector. As banks explore moving their London bases to other countries, many are putting their plans for a job change in the financial sector on hold.
Accountancy, however, is one area that is predicted to fare better whatever the negotiations may bring, once Article 50 is invoked. It’s expected that businesses will be seeking expert advice to help on how to deal with the impact of the coming changes to the trading environment, and to help them prepare.
This has opened up opportunities for contractors to snap up short term positions. A recent survey by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) showed that despite overall vacancies for temps and contractors dwindling throughout the summer, the numbers for accounting and finance leapt up, increasing by as much as 16% during the month of August. Even though this may indicate only a short term need for accounting professionals, there was also a small increase in vacancies for permanent positions, 5% more than last year, indicating confidence in the growth of the industry. Brexit’s legacy suggests a greater need for accounting expertise in the years to come.
Indeed, now that the initial shock following the Referendum has died down, there is evidence that the job markets are moving back towards an even keel, although we will never know for sure what the full impact of the vote will be, until the terms of Brexit are agreed. Included in these terms are what the rights of EU citizens might be, and what access, if any, the UK will have to the single market.
In the meantime, the recruitment industry is working hard to fill vacancies at all levels, in a market that is being affected by uncertain times. When the market is competitive and there are relatively few good quality candidates to choose from, it can be hard for companies to attract the right talent. The post-referendum climate has turned job security and career progression into the biggest factor for candidates when choosing between potential employers.