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Tech Talent and Brexit. What the Industry is Saying

#Tech Talent and Brexit

We hosted a roundtable lunch in London where our discussion topic was “accessing tech-talent post Brexit”. We focused on two areas, asking tech leaders to share:

1. the impact Brexit has had on their business’s ability to attract and hire software engineers, and

2. their approaches to attracting and hiring tech-talent both in the run up to and post Brexit.

Impact of Brexit on Tech Businesses

There were varying experiences around the table of the effect of Brexit – for some businesses Brexit appears not to have had a major impact on business or on attracting talent. For others, it’s made the UK hard to ‘sell’ to candidates as a result of the uncertainty around non-nationals living here post- Brexit.

Many guests agreed that the talent landscape looks uncertain, so having a plan in place to attract talent is important. This increases the importance of the ‘normal’ approaches such as strong employer branding and employee referral schemes. It also means having contingency plans in place such as remote or extended teams where appropriate.

Impact on EU Talent

For a lot of EU nationals living in the UK, Brexit has forced them to think about their future, and whether that involves leaving or continuing to live here. In many cases, it was never their intention to stay in the UK for more than a few years, and Brexit has simply sped up their timeline for leaving. For others, who were previously undecided about whether their future was in the UK, Brexit has forced their thinking about whether or not they will leave, and when exactly this might happen.

Impact on British Talent

In the days following the roundtable discussion, I spoke with a UK based candidate (a British citizen) about a job opportunity with a tech company in Dublin. Moving to Dublin was not something this candidate would have considered in the past, but in the wake of the Brexit referendum, the opportunity to work in Ireland and become a resident (and eventually a citizen) of a European country was extremely attractive for him and his family. This conversation made me reflect on a point made during the roundtable discussion.

Brexit solving one of the challenges it has created?

For businesses, this movement of people from the UK means the potential loss of tech-talent. An observation made at the roundtable was that this flow of talent might present a solution to one of the potential challenges created by Brexit, namely friction accessing the European market post Brexit. Losing a developer or a leader who wants to move elsewhere in Europe, be it home or otherwise presents an opportunity for a company to establish operations in that country. Having a known and trusted employee set up and grow an office in their home country (be it Spain, Portugal, Poland, Ireland or wherever) not only helps retain employees and opens up access to new talent, it also provides a channel for doing business in the EU should Brexit result in needless difficulty accessing the market from the UK.

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