Becoming Brexit-proof: how UK employers are coping with uncertainty

It’s a challenging time to be an employer. There’s the fierce competition for talent, industry competitors, and rising costs.

But none of these compare to the king of concerns: Brexit.

We surveyed more than 1000 UK employers, and almost half (47%) say Brexit is the biggest threat to their business. That is clear when you consider that 84% of them employ staff from the EU. On average, almost a quarter (23%) of their workforce comes from the EU.


Percentage of staff coming from European union


Employers are worried that losing EU talent will make it even harder to get the skilled people they need.


Filling the gap

Brexit transitions haven’t even started yet, but 1 in 5 employers say it’s making recruitment harder.

In fact, 89% of employers struggle to find the right people at least some of the time – and Brexit is only part of it.

Employers say it has a lot to do with the competitive job market, with unemployment at its lowest rate since the 1970s. That’s great for job seekers, but it drives costs for companies who stay competitive by offering higher salaries.

Employers also point to the education system as a source of recruitment woe. They say it doesn’t do a good enough job of preparing people for work.


Why do you have a problem recruiting skilled staff


Employers have a plan

So how do employers cope with outside factors that they can’t control, like Brexit and interest rates? They focus internally.

81% of those we surveyed are fighting uncertainty by using better talent and recruitment strategies.

This includes leadership and management training, which a third offer to staff. It’s wise, because employers say that management roles are the hardest to fill.

They are also recruiting fresh talent through apprenticeship programmes.


Measures to mitigate the impact of brexit


Does Brexit really matter?

By improving their internal processes, businesses are making sure have the right skills now and in the future.

Perhaps that is why they are so optimistic about the future. 85% of those we surveyed are confident their business will grow over the next 3-5 years.

If that’s true, could it mean Brexit may not be as damaging as employers fear? It’s impossible to know until decisions are made and agreements are signed.

But our survey results show that UK employers aren’t waiting to take action. They realise the best insurance they have against uncertainty is investing in their people.

The companies that are best placed to ride out the future are creating a talent pipeline from apprentice all the way up to senior leader.

Read the full survey results in our report, People Power >

About People Power: The City & Guilds Group worked with Censuswide to survey 1000 employers about the labour market. We also used economic modeller Emsi to map the UK jobs market to see how jobs would change over six years.