Post referendum the demand for talent continues

Published: 26 October 2016

Britain’s buoyant jobs market seems to have brushed off concerns surrounding Brexit to maintain its record employment rate of 74.5% this quarter, the same as the previous quarter. This has taken the total number of people in employment to just below 32 million.  Meanwhile a rise in wages, excluding bonuses, to 2.3%, from 2.1% in July is also positive sign.

The strong labour market, which employs more people now than at any time since records began in 1971, is positive for the UK Government.  A point echoed by the Employment Minister, Damian Hinds, who commented that “the jobs market remained robust after recording a high number of vacancies, rising wages and another month of jobs growth”.

Whilst the debate hots up over the form that Britain’s exit from the EU will take, the demand for talent shows no signs of slow down.  Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed the unemployment rate was steady at 4.9% in September 2016, its lowest since 2005, and job vacancies remained high.  However some influential figures, such as London Mayor Sadiq Khan, have warned of a ‘chronic skills shortage’ due to the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum vote and forthcoming negotiations.

Whilst there are many concerns over the impact the Brexit vote has had on the UK, not all the news and data is negative; according to the Office for National Statistics retailers saw their strongest quarter of growth since 2014 in the three months to September 2016, allaying fears that consumer confidence would be hurt after the Brexit vote. Retail sales volumes grew by 1.8%, the fastest rate since the fourth quarter of 2014 and up from 1.1% in the three months leading up to the EU referendum vote. “The underlying trend is one of strength, suggesting consumer confidence has remained steady since June’s referendum” said Kate Davies, of the ONS.

Meanwhile UK manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace in more than two years in September 2016, as the weak pound helped the sector to cement its strongest quarter of growth this year, according to the closely watched Markit survey. Economists said the better-than-expected data strengthened the case for the Bank of England to keep interest rates on hold in November, as several upgraded their UK growth forecasts. Markit stated the fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote was the manufacturing sector's "prime growth engine" as new domestic and overseas orders and promotional deals boosted activity.

Finally, independent forecasts compiled by the Treasury now show that the economy is performing far better than expected in the immediate aftermath of the vote.  In June the average economist thought GDP would grow by 1.8% in 2016, a forecast which was slashed in the wake of the referendum. However the country has proved resilient with economists now anticipating growth of 1.9% for 2016.

Ultimately employers who want to successfully appoint the required talent to drive growth and take advantage of the referendum result and the continued confidence and optimism will need to be pro-active and imaginative in their future recruitment campaigns.  They will also need to have a strong, transparent and candid relationship with a leading recruiter in the specific functional area and/or sector.

Berwick Partners leads the way in recruiting senior leadership positions across both the Private and Public sectors regionally, nationally and internationally, supporting organisations in making key appointments that have a critical impact upon their businesses future and success.

Simon Walton is Managing Partner of the Consumer Practice at Berwick Partners 

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