John Whelan, CEO of My Digital asks Are recruiters ready for the next Workforce boom post-Brexit?

The UK’s job market has been significantly rocked by COVID-19 which catalysed a decline in permanent employment. The UK Government has tried to protect jobs by launching its furlough scheme in March, which will continue to be a saviour for many until its extended deadline of March 2021.

While the furlough extension has delayed the wave of redundancies expected at the end of the job retention scheme, there is now a more disruptive event looming for the UK job market. Brexit is fast approaching and we’re now less than 50 days away until the UK officially leaves the EU on 1st January 2021. This monumental event is expected to trigger further disruption and uncertainty for the UK’s economy with new legislative changes expected for employment, such as the new points-based immigration system. However, it also creates new opportunities for flexible workers both in and outside the EU.

Working 9-5 won’t be a way to make a living

COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to flexible working with many workers joining the Quantum Workforce, where work is reduced to its smallest and most incremental parts, often across multiple employers. Today, one in seven workers in the UK are in flexible employment, up 25% in two decades. Similarly across the pond, a third of US workers are now self-employed ‘solopreneurs’.

This rise in Quantum Employment is underway across a range of industries and has even filtered into more traditional ‘white-collar jobs’ such as marketing, accountancy and law.

It’s expected Brexit will trigger drastic changes for recruitment firms due to the end of free movement, which will cause severe staffing shortages for sectors such as agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing who all especially rely on temporary workers. This will be further exacerbated by the end of the Job Retention Scheme inducing a shortage of full-time roles.

Many workers will face uncertainty but many will join the Quantum Workforce to reduce their dependence on one employer, sharing their skills across a range of employers and industries to strengthen their income. Job seekers want the ability to switch between different projects with ease, in the same way they order food and car-rides. Even in full-time roles, flexible working is already a new requirement for the current tranche of job-seekers, providing the criteria for which roles they decide to choose.

Similarly, businesses want to ensure operations flow smoothly with fewer resources by matching staffing capacity to meet business needs. Inevitably, recruiters will be asked to fill more flexible roles, as the decline in full-time roles continues.

Leaving the EU and traditional IT systems behind

Employment organisations will struggle to keep up with the drastic changes triggered by Brexit, and the end of furlough, if they continue to rely on glacial processes and decades-old technologies that are currently in place. Recruitment cycles are accelerating rapidly and contractors want to be paid quickly and accurately. This simply isn’t possible with fragmented spreadsheets, monthly timesheets submissions and manual checking of candidate credentials and certifications.

Not only do these traditional IT systems let businesses down, they also risk recruitment firms losing vital business if they’re unable to keep up with the fast-paced gig economy. Recruiters could experience significant delays or even miss out on hard-earned commission if traditional IT applications fail to maintain pace with the churn of new roles being successfully placed every hour.

In order to keep up with the Quantum Workforce and impending employment changes, a significant shift is needed in the way recruitment firms onboard, pay and tax workers, which will be critical as new legislative changes are ushered in by Brexit.

Advancing towards Quantum Employment

Recruiters need to embrace digitisation in order to drive the full potential from the next generation workforce. Cloud-native software specifically designed for Quantum Employment can advance admin processes such as onboarding, credential checking and invoice matching. With Quantum Employment Design software, organisations gain the ability to automate timesheets, which can often be left as a manual task, which provides real-time information exchange with HMRC, handling all tax calculations seamlessly. This prevents inaccuracies in paying workers and deducting tax. It also allows recruitment firms to focus on adding value elsewhere with face-to-face or virtual connections with clients and candidates.

As Brexit continues to hurtle towards the UK at break-neck speed, there will be further logistical and economic challenges for recruiters, with added consideration needed for eligibility of candidates from different countries. Recruitment firms need technology which will shield them from the disruption of these legislative changes and automatically adapt to put the new laws into practice. These growing pains caused by the UK’s departure from the EU may sound concerning but they do provide a great opportunity for recruiters in the long term.

The future of modern work will enable people to work where, when and how they want, aligning with their preferred work/life balance. Payments will be made as soon as contracts end and taxation will be automated. Employees will benefit by offering their skillset to a wide range of employers and businesses can choose to adapt their staff team to fit the current business demands. Quantum Employment will be beneficial to many workforces, even in the face of Brexit.

Recruitment firms face a prolonged period of turbulence with both Brexit and the end of furlough on the horizon but being ready to support the fledgling Quantum Workforce will ensure the potential of clients and candidates can be fully realised while remaining competitive.

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