Google any number of search strings around the subject of “Brexit and the IT industry” and you’ll get all the usual suspects. Predictions of doom and disaster from those you’d expect and (decidedly fewer) prophecies of a bright, sunny future. What is the truth?
Well, as during the referendum itself, truth is the first casualty of the aftermath of the vote. The fact is that we haven’t left the EU yet and, with the new Prime Minister still getting comfy in No 10, it doesn’t seem like we’re likely to trigger Article 50 for some time, and after that there are another two years to wait before we’re no longer part of the EU. If a week is a long time in politics/economics then two years is an eon.
There are numerous possible scenarios which could play out, either for good or ill, over the next couple of years. Perhaps the Leavers will be proved right; we shall quickly make some really good trade deals, the economy will improve and everything will be hunky dory. Alternatively, the so-called 'Project Fear' predictions may prove correct and we’ll rue the day that a majority voted to leave. The only thing we can say without fear of contradiction is that a lot of column inches will (continue to) be filled for a long time to come with the various arguments for what should, or should not, happen and what the consequences will be. If a quarter of the effort that has been and will be made on pontificating about what may or may not happen was instead channelled into actually trying to do something positive then perhaps we might experience less of a downturn than many expect. Surely only the politically motivated would want anything other than an improvement in the economy, whether we had voted to remain or stay?
As far as IT and most other industries are concerned, the biggest concern is, of course, the state of the economy. Uncertainty breeds fear in businesses and it seems probable the UK will continue to slow down in the months ahead. Whether that is a continuation of a trend that predated the vote is irrelevant: we have to deal with conditions as they are. A full-blown recession is predicted by some but hopefully it won’t come to that. For recruitment in general, and IT recruitment in particular, what matters are recruitment intentions and investment in jobs. There are contradictory signs here, with some firms saying they’ve had to let people go already and others pressing on with new plans for growth and jobs. However, given the well-publicised skills shortages in IT/digital, a period of taking stock, so long as it is short-lived, may not be too bad. At Be-IT we are still very busy and finding the real stars amongst the many potential candidates is our principal, day-to-day objective. Like every recruitment company, we’re focused on the pressing goals of filling jobs for our clients, whilst, naturally, keeping a weather-eye out for squalls ahead. There will almost certainly be some turbulence, possibly a moderate to severe storm, but that doesn’t alter my belief that, at present, we should leave the second-guessing to the media, hope – and work - for the best and concentrate on doing our day job to the best of our ability. That, surely, is what our clients and candidates want?
Michael Phair, Be-IT Resourcing