Wondering how Brexit will affect recruitment?
We spoke with EMEA CEO Darren Lancaster to get his views on how Brexit is influencing talent strategy.
During the conversation, Darren explored the impact of Brexit on hiring demand, recruiters, and the wider industry ecosystem.
Read on to discover how Brexit is affecting multilingual recruitment and talent sourcing — or indeed, whether any significant effects are yet to be felt by recruitment outsourcing.
Discover how Brexit may affect recruitment, with insights from Darren Lancaster.
Hi, Darren. Thanks for sharing your insights into the Brexit effect on recruitment. Can you tell us, how has Brexit impacted Hudson RPO and our clients in recent months?
From a UK perspective the reality of what we’ve seen with Brexit isn’t actually that dramatic at the moment.
You’d expect to see companies not hiring as many people. With such big turmoil and such big change, you’d expect that it would affect UK hiring numbers. That certainly isn’t the case for us at all.
Generally speaking, our hires under management have been quite resilient. If you look at pure recruitment agencies, and look at the data point of their financial performance, you’ll see that the market is relatively flat year on year. Recruitment outsourcers are the only providers to experience double-digit growth. This mirrors sector growth.
It’s not drastic. The market’s not a bad market to be in at the moment. That would all suggest that businesses are resilient in the face of uncertainty.
Are there any exceptions to that, such as blue collar hiring?
The only caveat to that is in specialist hiring. As an example, car makers in the UK have been creating noise regarding relocating and a reduction in jobs. I don’t know whether this links to the Brexit issue, or whether it relates more to a slow demand in diesel cars plus losing market share to new providers of electric cars.
But, generally speaking, other hires within blue collar aren’t drastically down, either. This suggests that the hiring market is resilient now amidst the political drama.
So, the evidence indicates that demand for talent remains buoyant. Beyond that, how is Brexit affecting the business supply of multilingual recruiters and sourcers from outside the UK?
We hire multilingual recruitment specialists, all of whom are native speakers, within the Centre of Excellence. Our multilingual recruiters and sourcers tend to be based at the, plus we have international recruitment specialists based on-site with clients in the UK.
Depending how Brexit progresses, we may see the supply of multilingual talent begin to dry up, but the actual effects may not be felt for a few years after Brexit.
Consider if you’re a recruiter based in Poland at the moment. Historically, you may have had a stronger view in favour of moving to the UK and taking up work here.
But with the uncertainty of Brexit, do you still think like that? Particularly with the view that you potentially may not be able to remain here, longer term? Do you invest in your flight, your accommodation? You’ll have to consider whether it’s all worth it.
How will these uncertainties affect sourcing as an industry?
In recruitment outsourcing, there’s always been a view that over a period of time, you’d establish an offshore centre to help reduce labour costs. Certain aspects of the recruitment process can suit these centres well. This started happening circa 2005-2010.
We ourselves have a centre in the Philippines, but we don’t use it for our EMEA sourcing since we also have our sourcing centre in the UK powered by native speakers.
Our competitors have been taking the approach of running sourcing operations in Poland, South Africa, India and similar locations.
Here’s where the issue occurs: If you want to find people that are proficient in English, that’s relatively easy to do from a sourcing centre based in Africa or Eastern Europe. But Spanish sourcing, Italian, French, and Flemish skills as example will be harder to come by.
All of these languages are a bit of a necessity when you’re recruiting talent, and you won’t necessarily have them in those locations. That’s a key reason why we continue to invest in multilingual talent sourcing within the UK and have recently signed a long lease for our current location.
But, after Brexit, if the talent dries up, where will you find that kind of language capability? It will be quite a difficult problem to solve.
Tell us more about how you envisage the post-Brexit world. How can the sourcing industry continue to deliver?
To prepare for the possible effects of Brexit, we must continue to cross-train people from diverse backgrounds to become highly skilled sourcers and recruiters.
At some point, there will be a problem when people can’t come to the UK, and there will be people who want to migrate back home. It will come and you’ll need to consider many different areas.
In the financial crisis of 2008, what you basically had was massive reduction in all hiring, couple that with a reduction in graduate hiring. Graduate schemes weren’t producing skills. It led to a skills gap that we have now in the market, particularly within financial services. To illustrate: mid-career chartered accountants, who should be in abundance, surprisingly aren’t around. There’s a distinct lack of accountants in the market today.
So to bring it back to Brexit, the lack of individuals from Europe may not affecting us today, but we may not see the full effects for a year’s time or longer.
Thank you kindly for taking the time to talk with us, Darren. We look forward to catching up again, and diving further into the fascinating question of how Brexit will affect recruitment.