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What could a ‘Brexit’ mean for hiring?

The In-Out Hokey Cokey that is the EU referendum comes to a climax this week – and we are still trying to figure out the what ifs.

It’s a really interesting, albeit highly divisive, topic and we are potentially going to be seeing some huge changes taking place within hiring space.

While a “small majority (53%) of REC members believe remaining in the EU would be in the best interest of the UK economy’’ (a stat from Adecco) we must acknowledge that there are a few potential pain points for the recruitment industry as a whole if it is decided that we will leave the EU.

The first concerns the free movement of people, one of the EU’s founding principles.

Four out of the last ten digital designers I have placed have been EU citizens from the rest of the continent. They came across the Channel to work in London because of its reputation for having the best agencies, technology companies & start-ups and therefore the best career opportunities.

If we face changes to the current free movement policy it is uncertain what EU residents would have to do to be able to come and work in the UK.

It could be dramatically different, with talks of an Australian-style points system or even sponsorship requirements. On the other hand, due to European trade agreements, there may be the opportunity to maintain a level of free migration.

The second issue is that of skills shortages.

Bill Gates has commented on the risk to hiring specialist talent, should the UK leave the EU. He stated that ‘It will be harder to find and recruit the best talent from across the Continent; talent which, in turn, creates jobs for people in the UK.’

Talent pools are already limited – if there were a further decrease that would definitely pose a challenge for the sourcing and hiring process. The UK must remain competitive if it is to attract world-class tech and digital talent – decreased mobility of candidates from the rest of Europe could dramatically impact our attractiveness.

Nigel Vaz, chief executive EMEA of digital marketing agencies SapientNitro and Razorfish said a vote to leave would be damaging.

“Were [London] to lose its status as an open city and were large companies to relocate, it would become a less attractive destination for skilled talent and digital entrepreneurs,” he told CNBC.

The third area to consider in the case of a British Exit is the increased bureaucracy.

I think it is fairly certain that if we leave there will be a greater level of bureaucracy for those looking to come and work in the UK. This would place increased administrative & financial burdens on both employers and prospective employees. Recruiters like myself would have to gain a thorough understanding of the procedures and laws surrounding migration & gaining the right to work in the UK, which would take time. There would inevitably be a period of adjustment – and who can really foresee the impact that would have on employment?

At least we don’t have much longer to wait to find out the result! What are your thoughts?

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