The latest official data says 2.37m of EU workers are currently in Britain. This is the highest figure since records began (source: According to the UK Commission for Employment & Skills, 43% of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) vacancies are currently hard to fill. This has huge implications for our workforce, national security and immigration.

Hiring EU workers doesn’t currently present a problem for UK businesses because EU nationals still have the right of free movement, however the UK’s decision to leave the EU will have a significant impact on this. The Coalition for a Digital Economy predict the industry will be short of 800,000 workers by 2020 and a study by the Royal Academy of Engineering shows that British industry will need 1.25 million new graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects between now and 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers.

It is not yet known how Brexit will impact on the recruitment of EU nationals however, it doesn’t look great. Many businesses are sceptical about risking the expense and disruption of recruiting new hires from the EU only to lose them in a couple of years due to immigration rule changes. The migration data released in August 2017 (source: showed that net migration has fallen to its lowest level for three years, partly driven by an increase in the number of EU migrants leaving the UK. It is also still unknown to whether there will be an immigration levy on recruiting EU workers post Brexit.

The core root of this growing skills gap is education, from school through to university and workplace training and the government have already begun tackling the skills shortage through a number of different incentives including; kids coding clubs, development and improvement of apprenticeship schemes, free basic digital training for adults, and attempts to eliminate stereotypes and encourage diversity in STEM subjects from school age. All of these areas are beginning to take shape, but it can take many years for such steps to make a real impact on workforce development.

It goes without saying that those businesses who are reaching the best talent are more profitable, more productive and fundamentally will have more opportunities to grow especially through the challenging times. Be ahead of the game, think strategically and take Brexit as a real opportunity to rise above the competition.

  • Develop a Proactive Recruitment Strategy – Strategic workforce planning ensuring needs of the business are aligned with staffing levels and reflect rise in the gig economy. Prioritise talent mapping and pooling of key talent requirements. Promote internal referral schemes. Look to work with talent partner if key strategic skills are lacking.
  • Invest in Technology – In order to identify and stay connected to talent both now and in the future, there are some amazing tools and technologies out there with new products hitting the market regularly. As a minimum, businesses need to invest in a good ATS but it is worth investigating innovative recruitment software for ideas on how to manage talent communities and engage with passive talent.
  • Focus on Retention of Internal Talent – Candidate experience needs to be ingrained in the business not only for recruiting but also for employees from onboarding to internal career progression. Review of internal policies and contractual agreements in line with gig economy shift including flexible working policies and contingent/contract workers.
  • Network – networking and engaging with other recruitment leaders/businesses to gain insight and share best practice. This can be done through the abundance of Linkedin groups, HR/talent/recruitment events and getting involved with groups like the Tech Partnership (a network of employers collaborating to create skills for the digital community through apprenticeships, events, training).
  • Nurture Home Grown Talent – If apprenticeships and graduate schemes are not a key focus in your business, they soon will be. There are now apprenticeship grants and placement support schemes available – keep an eye out for government incentives.
  • Plan for Brexit Developments – There is no doubt Brexit will impact your business in one way or another. A good source of latest information to keep an eye on is the CIPD (


We are Talent Solutions. We partner with businesses to guide and support them with their talent strategy.

For more information go to or call Lenna Thompson on 07377 625 413.