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How Will Brexit Impact Hiring Within The UK Technology Businesses?

2020, a year that many would prefer to forget. A year that saw technology businesses face unprecedented challenges, revenues threatened and significant impacts on company growth and hiring strategies.

It was also the year that saw the UK strike a deal with the European Union, end the 11-month transition period and exit the EU single market and customs union on 30th December.

In the run-up to the agreement, much of the focus was on Brexit’s impact on trade, logistics and borders. But what of hiring, and in particular, hiring talent for technology businesses?

Europe a hub for talent

Traditionally, Europe has been a rich talent pool for UK technology businesses to dip into.

The value of European technology businesses has rocketed in recent years, and with the combined value of these businesses jumping to €618 billion last year, they are now worth 4 times more than they were 5 years ago.

More than 2 million people are employed in tech start-ups, and it’s this talent which has underpinned the significant levels in valuation growth. Importantly, these businesses lead job creation across Europe, particularly as traditional tourism and leisure industries have suffered recently as a result of COVID-19.

Now, with Brexit a done deal and the UK out of the European Union, there’s a new level of uncertainty for businesses to contend with this year. Despite the technology sector being a resilient one, there are new barriers to accessing the top talent and new challenges for businesses to face when it comes to hiring into their teams.

But exactly what is the impact of Brexit on hiring for UK technology businesses? What are the challenges and where are the opportunities?

Smaller talent pool

With the free movement of people coming to an end, and new laws around immigration in effect, cross border hiring is set to become even more of a challenge for the UK’s tech industry in 2021 and beyond.

Obtaining visas to work in the UK may deter some candidates due to either the application process, timescales, eligibility, costs or a combination of these factors. While the visas available and the new immigration system has been designed with skilled workers in mind, e.g. those working in tech, there are a multiple hoops employees and employers will need to jump through in order to get them finalised.

In essence, hiring overseas talent into your business is set to become more expensive, time-consuming and convoluted, and as such, it’s highly likely technology businesses will have to fish from a smaller talent pool. 

The cost of attracting UK talent

The knock-on effect of having access to a smaller talent pool is that the competition for the best candidates will heat up. Add to this the impact COVID-19 had on many people’s careers in 2020 and all of a sudden you could find yourself fighting a battle with multiple companies to attract the available tech talent.

Labour shortages and candidates that know they are in demand can lead to larger salaries being demanded. While the impact of 2020 has highlighted that salaries aren’t everything when it comes to considering career opportunities, they will play a significant role in talent attraction.

Therefore, in 2021, businesses may find themselves needing to raise salaries or improve the benefits and perks they offer in order to secure the best talent and achieve their growth plans.

The good news is it’s not all bad news…

While Brexit presents a number of challenges to technology business, there are many opportunities out there for them to take advantage of:

Opportunity to upskill staff

Post-Brexit, success may come from training your existing team and hiring talent that display the desired attitudes and willingness to learn and develop their technical skills.

This has been a key focus for many technology businesses over the last 12 months as teams have had to adapt, learn new skills and grow in order to overcome the challenges they’ve faced.

In addition, upskilling your existing staff will have other positive impacts on your business. Upskilling will give your staff greater engagement in their roles, showcase your business as an employer that values career development and will reduce your recruitment costs.

UK’s talent hubs are growing

In years gone by, London was the UK’s primary talent hub, and while this is still true, there are growing pockets of great tech talent across the wider UK.

Major cities such as Manchester, Bristol, Newcastle, Oxford and Brighton all have a plethora of top tech talent to choose from, driven in part by universities and the rising costs of running a business in the capital. Interestingly, 74% of CFOs surveyed by Gartner said they will now move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote and this talent could come from abroad.

These tech hubs shouldn’t be overlooked, and with remote working here to stay, there is talent available in these areas that perhaps businesses wouldn’t have thought to look at previously.

Overseas talent can work remotely

Although not a simple process, leveraging remote overseas talent could be an option, especially if they are working in a similar time zone, allowing them to be online at the same time as your UK team.

However, there are plenty of issues to consider in order to make this happen. Issues such as tax, employment laws, pension and data processing need to be looked at carefully. Provided this is in order, having overseas tech talent working remotely could work.

Specialist recruiter networks are there to be leveraged

Working alongside a trusted, specialist recruitment agency and tapping into their network and insight is a great way to access technology talent post-Brexit. Equally, if you have designs to grow your team in 2021, having a talent strategy in place that’s adaptable to future challenges is hugely important.

Whatever happens with the wider labour market, engaging with an experienced recruitment team will allow you to meet the best candidates throughout the hiring process.

If you want to speak to the Digital Republic Talent team about your recruitment or talent strategy now Brexit’s here, then we are on hand to help. Drop us a call on +44203 637 3331 or email [email protected].

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