It is less than a year until Brexit but HR professionals and recruiters are already witnessing its impact on hiring strategies

An analysis of migration trends since the referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union has revealed that for the first time Britain is losing international talent.

Brexit affecting access to talent

LinkedIn’s Workforce report reveals that professional migration from the rest of the world to the UK has reduced by 20%. While the UK is still importing talent, nearly a third (28%) of recruiters think it is no longer seen as an attractive place to advance your career for international candidates. 

Migration into the UK from the 27 other EU member states has been falling steadily since the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU, and is down 26% in the last year, while more professionals left for the EU27 in the first quarter of this year than entered. 

Recruiters have also noted decreases in hiring from major EU markets, as 37% have seen decreases in hires from Italy and 35% have seen decreases in hires from France and Germany. The biggest decline in professional migration from Europe has come from Ireland, which had a 37% decline in the last year. 

The EU isn’t the only market causing this decline as recruiters found South Africa (27% say hiring has fallen), Canada (27%), Australia (26%), India (26%) and the US (25%) have experienced noticeable decreases in migration to the UK.

The majority (96%) of recruiters surveyed think Brexit is impacting hiring strategies, with almost half (44%) thinking the UK is less attractive to EU27 candidates based on conversations with candidates.

Joshua Graff, UK Country Manager & VP EMEA at LinkedIn says “Your view of this change probably depends on your view of Brexit and of Britain’s place in the world. The reversal of talent flows between the EU and the UK has the potential to harm the UK economy as businesses struggle to source the skills they need, and companies reconsider locating here due to a perceived talent shortage. However, it could also open up more opportunities for UK professionals or those from other countries outside the EU, who can step in to meet the demand.”

While these figures may raise a few alarm bells, employers simply need to reassess strategies they use to attract talent. This may mean offering a competitive monetary benefit or updating the total reward package for a diverse workforce.

Sectors taking the biggest hit

The report also found that the healthcare sector has been the most affected by Brexit, as recruitment and HR professionals have noted they are seeing the biggest impact of declining international talent on this sector as well as in Manufacturing, construction, finance and education sectors. However, Brexit may not be the only reason candidates are reluctant to relocate to the region as reports of hostile immigration practices could also be taking effect.

Despite these concerns, 71% of HR and recruitment professionals are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident about their ability to recruit the right talent and nearly half (48%) have actually seen an increase in hiring over the first quarter of 2018.

“CEOs of UK businesses have an urgent to-do list if they are to navigate these changes successfully. This starts with taking a closer look at their own talent pipelines. Are they seeing the same post-Brexit effects reflected there? And if so, can they adjust and amplify their own employer brand to compensate for changing perceptions of Britain as a whole? If they are facing skills shortages due to falling migration, they will need to develop strategies for upskilling existing employees or hiring and developing UK professionals with the potential to fill the gap. And they’ll need to move swiftly because these types of solutions take time.” Graff adds.

“Above all, it’s never been more important for businesses to communicate openly and clearly with policymakers about the impact that Brexit is having. Whether working through professional associations or speaking to government directly, it’s vital to make the case for the importance of accessing the talent that you need. Too much discussion about the impact of Brexit falls predictably along the lines of people’s pre-existing views. It’s now time to move beyond that. And a clearer view of what’s happening across the business landscape is the best way to do so.”