Key Takeaways from Breakfast News 2019: The Brexit Edition
Friday, March 15, 2019

Simon Rogers, director at Group GTI, welcomed delegates to the first out of four Breakfast News events for 2019 at The Anthologist, London. Now in its eleventh year running, the event has been reconfigured to provide greater opportunities to network and discuss the topics. For the third year, the informative morning ran in conjunction with partners Blackbridge for a great line-up of speakers, industry insights and engagement from a recruitment-based audience. This timely session focused on Brexit, the agenda being the impact of this important international moment on graduates and employers... 

1) The Economic Update

Declan Curry, broadcaster and business and economics journalist, opened the floor with a view of the much debated post-Brexit economy. With March 29 fast approaching, Declan highlighted how we are positioned on three possible cliff edges and set to prepare for the biggest change to the rules in our lifetime. What will happen to the government? Will there be no Brexit? What about a second referendum? These pressing questions, along with the need for answers on barriers, rules and costs, have led to an uncertainty throughout the economy. While at this stage in time a record number of people are in work, pay packets are rising, the economy is growing and government borrowing has been reigned in, there’s still a sense of caution and holding back on investment as the global economy slows and forecasts are cut. However, Declan sees eventual clarity on the horizon as we are left with the possibility of a vigorous and open economy – one that is attractive to the rest of the world. The takeaway? Businesses need to be nimble, keep the doors open to new business and endure the current climate: the chance for new markets, wealth and opportunity is still there. 

2) Brexit – Employer Perspectives: How will Brexit impact recruitment?

Tomas Christodoulou, membership development manager at the Institute of Student Employers used insights from the ISE Pulse Survey 2019, taken six months in the recruitment cycle by 90+ employers, to explore the level of recruitment and the effect of Brexit. The good news is that respondents were still recruiting (98% recruiting graduates and 73% recruiting apprentices), with both the graduate and apprentice areas showing growth (18% and 47% for the level of recruitment respectively). As these markets grow, questions are raised concerning entry-level recruitment and whether it’ll be harder to find and attract talent after Brexit: particularly filling specialist roles at the entry level (32% of employers were concerned) and finding specialist experienced hires (38% of employers were concerned) such as the right STEM graduates for the engineering sector. IT and retail recruitment may show signs of growth given home-grown talent from the post-Brexit employment levy, but offsetting the labour supply with the specialist skills required in other sectors is a red flag. Ultimately, the key danger is whether there is to be a recession following Brexit, given that the market is yet to fully recover from the situation in 2008. 

3) Engaging with Generation Brexit 

Mike Hanbidge, consultant at Blackbridge Communications, and Dasha Karzunina, head of research at Trendence UK, used the findings from a recent Trendence survey of 1,599 diverse respondents (including 181 recent graduates, 19% EU nationals, 13% non-EU nationals and 34% who voted remain) to pinpoint the voice of Generation Brexit and the ways in which recruiters need to be engaging with them. The survey gleaned market perceptions, the general feeling of graduates towards the future and the steps employers need to take to remain competitively attractive.

When it comes to student engagement, universities need to be addressing fear of the unknown to attract and retain students. For example, though students are anticipating that it’ll be harder to find a job (73% from the survey), it will take longer to secure employment and that the effects of Brexit will be long-lasting (74% of first jobbers say 3+ years), this isn’t denting their determination to overcome future obstacles to get to where they need to be. Students are more likely to relocate for the right position (68% of students are willing to move over 50 miles from their home!), which is why employers need to market location as the catchment areas for jobs inevitably increase.

27% of graduate recruiters offer relocation benefits, which need to be visible through marketing. To address a discerning generation, it’s the reassurance, meaningful promises and available information that count. Be prepared to explain how you’re managing Brexit on your website, make strong propositions and most importantly of all, be transparent about your graduate hire numbers. Mike emphasised the need to transform confusion into belief for these prospective hires: Reaffirm, support and bolster your graduate information so that it’s proof of a long-term projection.

4) Brexit: A Personal Story 

Gina Miller, business owner, campaigner and author, gave a rousing delivery on her experiences surrounding Brexit and the ways in which we should be moving forward. Her message was for transparency across political and economic dealings – insofar that we all have the right to be making informed choices, with honest information and clear directives. Gina cited her True & Fair campaign, pension directive, shareholder directive and call for transparency on fees to this end. When it comes to policy-shaping, there’s a duty for those in charge to be finding solutions; something that certainly applies to the graduate recruitment landscape. In a world where there’s anxiety, fears and constant miscommunication, we need to focus on how we can work towards a fairer future as, with Brexit, the UK potentially resets to Ground Zero. 

Group GTI and Blackbridge were pleased to deliver the first serving of industry intelligence this year and would like to thank all who attended for adding to the conversation and creating a wider discussion around our hard-hitting topic.

For more information about Breakfast News and to ensure your seat at the next event, please visit www.groupgti.com/employer/gti-breakfast-news

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