IT sector 'particularly negative' about Brexit's impact

The “exceptional” reputation UK engineering enjoys globally is at risk because employers cannot find people with the skills they need, a recruitment boss warns today.

But end-clients in bedfellow industry IT, where skills shortages outnumber those in engineering, are largely finding the contractors they need, showed the REC, where the boss, Kevin Green, is CEO.

In fact, all of the IT contractor skills that agencies struggled to find in March were no longer hard to find last month, in April, except for IT security, shows the REC’s latest Report on Jobs.

Shortage of permanent IT skills are more stubborn but candidates are likewise being found.

For example, the March shortage of Dev Ops, Embedded Software Engineers, Java Developers, PHP Software Developers and Ruby Software Developers entirely cleared in April.

However, the fact that a list of nine permanent IT skills shortages has simply been replaced with a list of eight permanent IT skills shortages, which now includes Remedy Admins and Digital generalists, partly explains the staffing sector's concerns.

And Brexit is just serving to heighten those concerns. Mr Green said: “If British business is to thrive, then whichever party forms a government after 8 June needs to address the ever-shrinking pool of suitable candidates… as well as safeguarding access to the workers we need from abroad.”

Data obtained this week by ContractorUK from Reed, the employment group, shows there has already been a 28% drop-off in applications to UK jobs from EU citizens since last June.

IT contractors might welcome the finding, on the basis that less competition will make it easier for those of them ‘on the bench’ to find work. But less competition won’t help their rate -- or be welcomed by their end-users.

“Those in the IT sector were particularly negative about the potential outcome of Brexit,” Reed said. “Sixty per cent [of IT sector employers are] anticipating fewer jobs and higher unemployment as a result of Britain leaving the EU.”

At the REC, where IT contractor demand stands at 59.2 (compared with 60.1 in March), the hope is that the UK’s immigration system in light of Brexit is made “agile enough to reflect and adapt to evolving labour market needs.”  

Manufacturing body the EEF says the priority for the new system must be to give employers the ability to manage work permits, so they can quickly access the people and skills they need.

But according to the entrepreneurship and IT arm of the Institute of Directors, better immigration rules should focus most on young companies, because “fast-growing sectors need to be able to draw on foreign talent.”

End-users in IT would today put that talent to work in Cyber Security, Ruby Development, general Development, PHP Development and Testing, as REC says these five IT skills are currently hard to find on a temporary basis.

“Recruiters are flagging a shortage of suitable applicants for more than 60 different roles”, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said.

“People already in work are becoming more hesitant about moving jobs amid Brexit uncertainty. Meanwhile, the weakening pound and lack of clarity about future immigration rules is putting off some EU nationals from taking up roles in the UK.”

Editor’s Note: Related --

Contracting in the EU? Keep Calm and Carry On

Brexit: Shrewd IT contractors will make hay while the sun shines

Brexit? IT contractor sector has its final say

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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