Three years of campaigns, negotiations, delays and uncertainty have finally come to a head; on 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom formally exited the world’s largest trading bloc. For businesses here in the UK, the reality of life on the outside now comes to bear as the British government embarks on months of negotiations with our European neighbours to establish how the country can continue to trade after enjoying nearly 50 years of integration.
Return of the long-term view
The REC’s UK Report on Jobs has reported a change in hiring behaviours over the first month of 2020 – permanent vacancies are continuing to rise, and January saw the biggest increase in demand for nearly a year. Placements were up as well, with market confidence resulting in a 13 month high for new appointments.
Conversely, temporary billings have fallen for the first time since 2013 – whilst there are many links to the upcoming reforms to IR35, the decisive December general election and actions undertaken by the government since have given businesses the security they need to move away from short-term fixes and focus on the long-term solution.
Business beyond Europe
The UK’s food and drink sector has played a major part in showing us what life outside of the EU will be like. A new report from Santander & Make UK shows that overseas sales rose by nearly a quarter over the last two years. Whilst the EU still accounts for nearly two thirds of the sector’s exports, sales to Asia and Oceania are up by 295% and the USA is up by 260% over the last two decades.
Demand continues to outstrip supply
The demand for both permanent and temporary vacancies continued to grow in January, with the Finance and Engineering sectors reporting the biggest growth. The East of England PMI reported high business expectations; recruitment activity increasing despite a fractional fall in current business activity.
Whilst demand is continuing to grow, the availability of staff across both permanent and temporary markets is still in decline. IR35 reforms have hit the temporary market, but a number of factors including Brexit has made a big impact on the permanent market; with freedom of movement almost certainly ending in 2021, REC members report that availability of EU workers has fallen noticeably.
Select your preferred partner
In a year of tough negotiations and changing circumstances, we work in partnership with you to cut through the uncertainty and deliver the people you need to future-proof your business. With a network of offices reaching across the country, our teams have access to the whole of the market when securing your next permanent or temporary hire. To find out more about continuing business after Brexit, get in touch.