March 11, 2019

How to combat the potential brain-drain caused by Brexit

Whatever your opinion on Brexit, the 29th March is only drawing nearer and with it comes a plethora of potential issues for employers. One major issue facing companies in the UK is that of ‘brain-drain’, or the shortage of skilled workers from outside the UK.

There’s a good chance that Brexit will make the UK less attractive for skilled and semi-skilled workers. This is despite the government’s pledge that migration restrictions will focus on attracting ‘the brightest and best’ workers from the EU and further into the UK. Increased screening, lengthy processes and a generally weaker market position are just a few reasons skilled workers might think twice about leaving their home to work in the UK, especially with potentially more attractive moves available within the EU. So, what can be done to mitigate the potential skills shortage – particularly on a company level?

Lend a helping hand

If your company relies even slightly on skilled workers from abroad, it’s important that you make it as easy as possible for them to apply, interview and make the move to work for you. This might come at some cost to yourselves, but there are clear benefits to your investment. Moving countries to work is never a simple process, so any support you can offer your candidates will be well received. You might try covering initial travel or accommodation costs or, if you’re regularly employing people from abroad, you might even consider renting accommodation to temporarily put up new employees whilst they make their own living arrangements.

Offering free legal advice to existing and prospective employees about their options is also a big bonus, as these can be costly for the individual. The benefit is a more accurate picture of what your employees can expect short and long term – which allows them to plan more confidently.

Invest in the future

Economic instability is likely a serious concern for you, but it also affects both current and prospective employees (and not just those originating from outside the UK).

It’s important that you retain a competitive edge in these uncertain times that keeps your company looking and feeling as competitive as expected. To do this it may cost you more than usual, at least in the short term.

Investing in training courses to help up-skill employees can be a valuable sweetener for workers unsure of their future. Many companies are already paying into the Apprenticeship Levy, for example, without making full use of its benefits. This is a relatively simple area to explore that can be low cost and high reward. Moreover, there are a whole host of apprenticeships that relate to the modern workforce – it’s not just for plumbers and carpenters. For those motivated more directly by money, an attractive bonus scheme could prove to be a useful incentive for retaining staff during the turbulent exit stage.

Shout about your benefits

There’s no use introducing a whole host of benefits if nobody knows about them. Make it clear on your website, job ads and social media posts that you offer a competitive job package with a range of benefits for candidates applying outside of the UK. This will go a long way to reassuring and enticing interested candidates, and can bolster recruitment efforts by making it clear you are invested in your employee’s future in the UK.

Do you have any advice on retaining or even attracting talent from outside the UK? Maybe you’re a skilled worker from outside the UK yourself – if so, what would make you feel the most confident in staying in or moving to the UK to work?

Sarah Aubrey is CEO at DPG PLC (Developing People Globally). DPG are a major training provider of L&M, HR and L&D qualifications, with over 25 years’ experience and 30,000 successful learners.

DPG are the UK’s only HR provider to offer CIPD qualifications as part of our apprenticeships. DPG enable professionals to build their capability, drive the performance of their organisation and fast track their career unlike anyone else.