____ Wednesday June 22, 2016 ____


Global Trade

British Businesses Hanging in Suspense Under Brexit Cloud of Uncertainty

London, UK - Global {M} founders Alex Hemsley and Nick Waller recently expressed their fears for the UK-based tech startup scene if Brexit is to voted in on Thursday 23rd of June. The technology recruitment specialists have been working with British technology entrepreneurs and technology talent long enough to know the vitality of a free-flowing talent pool in order for British startups to thrive.

It is no secret that there is a tech talent shortage in the UK and it is common practice to recruit from overseas, Europe and beyond. The UK tech industry undergoes an annual shortfall of 40,000 graduates with backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, according to a Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) report on Improving Diversity STEM in 2014. For the time being, it is therefore an imperative that tech startups can recruit from beyond the UK with agility and ease.

Hemsley reflects, “The great thing about being a member of the EU when it comes to hiring is that the search for talent is not constrained by borders or hindered by red tape and therefore startups are free to concentrate on sourcing the best talent quickly and efficiently to support their growth.”

The Global {M} team, who pride themselves in understanding both employer and employee sides of the technology industry, decided as the deciding day draws near, to speak to some UK-based entrepreneurs to hear their views on Brexit.

Nick Bolton is the founder of Rota, a revolutionary app that connects hospitality companies to hundreds of rated staff. 70% of the workforce on the platform are from EU countries and understandably, he does not view Brexit in a positive light,

“We designed Rota with the view to making employing and finding employment within the hospitality industry as easy and as flexible as possible. Hospitality is a universal need and a universal skill and travel is at the core of the hospitality industry, with workers being able to apply their skills wherever they’d like to live in the world. I feel that Brexit could have a very negative impact on the fundamental flow of hospitality personnel that we built our platform on.”

When asked if he would find it difficult to recruit a workforce only from within the UK, Bolton’s response illustrates the importance of inviting a European hospitality workforce into the country,

“Yes, British people tend to look down on hospitality work and it is only seen as a job whilst you’re a student. In other EU countries, particularly France, Italy, Spain and Portugal it is seen as a respected long term career.”

Bolton’s outlook on the potential effect of Brexit on the UK’s technology startup scene is also grim,

“It would cripple a number of the tech start-ups. One of the biggest challenges facing tech start-ups is the shortage of good quality developers and many of these highly skilled workers currently come from the EU. Without them, we would see even more severe shortages and rising wages for this already well paid industry. The only thing worse for fundraising than a declining economy is an uncertain one. Brexit is likely to cause both. VC's will look at more certain, stable economies and avoid pouring money into London.”

Robert Newry, founder of innovative recruitment technology, Arctic Shores, is another entrepreneur who has grave concerns about what Brexit would mean for his business and the UK’s technology startup sphere,

“ We have currently have 14 employees, 4 are European, 3 of whom are first generation. We need multi-lingual staff and we can't find all the expertise we need from within the UK. Brexit would cause us not just hiring issues but contract and revenue ones too. Brexit would force us to focus more on exports and ultimately question a UK base. There is plenty of interest in UK start-ups at the moment but this will dry up under Brexit and raising capital will be harder.”

Newry’s concerns about the referendum and what it a leave result would mean for the nature of the recruitment process for UK-based companies.

“Our mission at Arctic Shores is to enable organisations to attract and identify the best candidates from all backgrounds in a fun and fair way. Our games-based psychometric assessments are designed to ensure our clients find the most suitable candidates for their roles. Sometimes those candidates are in the UK and sometimes they are in Europe and further away. We believe in a level playing field so the best talent is found to drive UK businesses irrespective of their geographical location or nationality. It would be a pity to see bureaucratic barriers erected in the hiring space if we were to leave the EU.”

Being able to source employees from the EU has been a great advantage to organisations of all sizes and natures in this country. Waller emphasises the double-advantage of Europe’s proximity and diversity,

“Europe has both the power of numbers and proximity. It’s a win-win. The area harbours a greater amount of specialist candidates to draw from and its closeness to the UK ensures a greater possibility of candidates relocating to work here. Cultural diversity within a company also allows for a greater understanding of the world, better communication skills and places a company on a global footing, ready to compete internationally and grow on a larger scale, ultimately returning value to the national economy.”

Both company owners and employees fear the upheaval and constraints that Brexit would cause. If the UK exits the EU, there are unanswered questions about who would have to exit the UK. A cloud of uncertainty hangs over the future of talent recruitment in this country and while there are no certainties in growing a business, the access to the greater talent pool of Europe across the channel has been one that entrepreneurs and managers have enjoyed since the 1970s. This access has been a certainty (as certain as certain can be) that UK businesses have both operated on and built their models on. Do they really need this taken away?

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