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UK employers fear EU talent pool is being drained

20 March 2017

The UK’s finance, healthcare and construction industries fear that the “talent drawbridge” that enables them to hire staff from the continent will be pulled up once Brexit is complete.

According to a survey by employment group Manpower, some employers are engaged in a rush to try and recruit more EU workers. Generally, though, hiring confidence in the jobs market is waning because of concerns over Brexit, particularly in London and Scotland – the two areas of the country where the ‘remain’ vote was strongest in the EU referendum. Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said, “With huge uncertainty surrounding sectors like banking and financial services – critical to the economy in London and Edinburgh – it’s no surprise that confidence in these regions is suffering.” The survey of more than 2,000 employers found that hiring confidence in six out of nine sectors had fallen to its lowest level in three years, particularly among SMEs, although overall the Manpower Net Employment Outlook index remained in positive territory at plus 5 per cent, down two points from the previous quarter. “The impending trigger of Article 50 is clearly affecting confidence in the jobs market,” said Mr Cahill. “The private sector plans to hire at its slowest rate since 2014, with only construction, manufacturing, and transport and communications planning to hire at previous levels. High employment rate

“The employment rate is at its highest level since records began in 1971, but if you lift the bonnet to look at the engine of the economy, job creation has slowed and employers are becoming more cautious. The companies that have powered Britain’s economy through the immediate post-referendum period are easing off the gas.” Jonas Prising, ManpowerGroup chairman and CEO, added, “Across the world, we are seeing positive hiring intentions despite a slow growth business environment. Employers are more subdued in Western Europe where there is more uncertainty as elections are set to happen through the year. “Having seen the surprising election results in the UK and US in 2016, European businesses know to expect the unexpected. Even in countries where hiring intentions are positive, some employers are experiencing challenges finding individuals with the most in-demand skills. We are seeing the emergence of a Skills Revolution, where helping people upskill and adapt to a fast-changing world of work will be the defining challenge of our time.”

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