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Jo Sellick

Member Article

The Boris effect could be catastrophic for the UK talent pool – recruitment leader Jo Sellick responds to the appointment of our new PM

As expected, Boris Johnson won the Tory leadership ballot and has formally become our new Prime Minster, throwing any progress we have made over Brexit up in the air. The decision to appoint Boris as PM is a controversial one, and one that even members of his own partly wholly disagree with. We have already had some high profile resignations, the value of the pound continues to tumble and I expect more turmoil to follow as Boris takes Number 10 and throws our country into even more uncertain times. I am sorry to say that my confidence in our government is at an all-time low.

My biggest concern is where this leaves us in relation to Brexit, and the issues that have been bubbling over the pot for the past few years. With Theresa May there was always a glimmer of hope that she would continue to negotiate with the EU until such a time that they compromised or she was forced into giving the UK electorate another chance to vote. With Boris we have no such safety net. Boris Johnson plans to leave the EU on October 31 2019 with or without a deal full stop, which could be catastrophic for our country. I fear that having a leader with such a strong viewpoint, and very little in the way of compromise could damage our current relationship with the EU and leave things very sour after our exit. Ruining the strong relationship we have with our EU neighbours would not only be disappointing for the 49 percent that voted against Brexit, but also damaging for the UK as a whole. We rely on EU workers to feed our talent pool with highly skilled individuals to support our NHS, our food and drink industry and professional services to name but a few. Without them we will continue to see a decline in readily available candidates until such a time we can build new relationships further afield, and formally release an immigration policy that is attractive to experienced non EU workers that want to build a career here in the UK.

As a recruitment leader I am regularly asked what harming our relationship with the EU might do to our talent pool, or what might happen to our workforce should we leave without a deal. I think we are already witnessing the ‘if’ in this question. EU migration has fallen year-on-year since the EU Referendum and job vacancies are at an all-time high as a result. In November last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that our UK unemployment rate rose to 4.1 percent at the same time as we saw a drop of 132,000 citizens from other European Union countries working in Britain. This is worrying for a country that already has a massive skills shortage and I don’t see much being done to try and rectify it at present. Instead of fighting amongst themselves, the UK government and our politicians should be working to make the UK an exciting and attractive place to work for experienced candidates across the globe.

There is however a glimmer of hope. The ONS also recently reported that net migration to the UK from countries outside the European Union has hit its highest level for 15 years. This could offer some comfort to businesses that rely on UK migration, but I would proceed with an element of caution.

I would be interested to find where these migrants are currently working and what benefit they are having on the UK economy. Until I see evidence that these new workers can replicate the success we have had utilising EU workers, I will stay on the fence. EU talent is a tried and tested pool, and l worry that bringing candidates from elsewhere will increase UK migration, but will not have any real impact on improving the skills shortage we are currently witnessing.

Whatever happens, with Boris at the helm it is more likely than ever that we will crash out of the EU without a deal in little over three months, so businesses should do whatever they can now to prepare. We need to start preparing for the worst. I would therefore advise business leaders that are considering taking on new workers to do so before our exit date to avoid being left disappointed. After October 31 2019 anything could happen, and if we do leave without a deal as expected, our EU workforce could take a massive blow, leaving us short of the talent we need to run our country efficiently

Jo Sellick, Managing Director, Sellick Partnership

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Jo Sellick .

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