No deal at Brexit summit: What happens next for recruitment?

EU leaders met in Brussels this week to flesh out a Brexit deal, but negotiators failed to meet an agreement after two days of talks. The October 16th and 17th EU summit was originally seen as the final deadline for agreeing an exit arrangement – and time is quickly running out.

There has already been a significant drop in the number of EU-born workers coming to the UK over the last year, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Between the first quarters of 2016 and 2017, an extra 180,000 EU-based employees came to the country, but this figure plummeted to just 7,000 the following year – a 95 per cent fall.

How is Brexit affecting hiring?

A LinkedIn survey from April showed the looming threat of Brexit was creating various challenges for hiring managers.

Four in ten said talent shortages were the biggest hurdle, while business uncertainty and reluctance to move to the UK were also cited as issues for 38 and 36 per cent of organisations, respectively.

Our own research has indicated more than half of corporate governance professionals – including both UK and EU-born candidates – are willing to relocate outside of the country if Brexit hampers their career development.

Organisations are therefore unlikely to be pleased the October EU summit didn’t lead to an agreement, given the ongoing threat of a no-deal Brexit. But what progress was made? And what are the next steps in the process?

Deal may have to wait until December

There are still two more potential opportunities for the UK and the EU to strike a deal before the end of the year. One of these is a special Brexit summit that could be held in November, although this now looks unlikely to go ahead.

“For now, the EU27 is not planning to organise an extraordinary summit on Brexit in November,” an unnamed EU source told the Independent.

This would leave an EU summit on December 13th and 14th as a last-ditch opportunity to confirm a deal before the March 29th 2019 separation deadline. The UK would also need to ensure any Brexit deal is ratified by parliament in the new year, which could prove difficult. 

Nevertheless, businesses may be encouraged to hear that both the UK and the EU indicated a willingness to extend the current 21-month transition period to three years. This longer timeframe could mitigate Brexit’s impact on European economies, providing a smoother exit from the union.

Recruitment market buoyant despite challenges

Hiring managers remain positive about recruitment outcomes, according to LinkedIn’s survey. Nearly three-quarters are ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident about their ability to recruit the right talent, even with the current economic and political backdrop. Moreover, almost half reported an increase in hiring over the first quarter of 2018.

“Although the results show that Brexit is unsurprisingly having a significant impact on hiring strategies, it’s positive to see that overall confidence across the industry has remained relatively high,” said Jon Addison, Head of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn UK.

Undoubtedly, organisations will now be awaiting the outcome of the December EU summit to better plan their recruitment strategies for 2019 and beyond. To get a head start on your hiring intentions for next year, please contact me on 020 7936 2601 or via email at

Our 2018 European Market Report combines a review of the prevailing conditions in the European corporate governance recruitment market with key insights from Barclay Simpson’s expert consultants.

Image credit: Andrey Kuzmin by Adobe Stock