ThePeopleAlchemist Edit: HR, Business and Brexit – how is Brexit going to look now?
So how is Brexit going to look now?
It has almost been one year since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. The negotiations on the “how” have just begun, with both sides seeking to strike a positive tone in the press conference at the end of Day 1 of this historic event moment.
Brexit Minister David Davis said London wanted a “new, deep and special partnership in the interest of Britons and all Europeans. There is more that unites us than divides us,” he said. Adding that Britain was looking for a “positive and constructive tone” in the talks. “So while there will undoubtedly be challenging times ahead of us in the negotiations, we will do all that we can to ensure we deliver a deal that works in the best interests of all of our citizens,” he added (Sky News sources).
Unpicking 43 years of treaties and agreements covering thousands of different subjects is not exactly going to be a straightforward task. Including the fact that it has not been done before. And the post-Brexit trade deal will need the approval of more than 30 national and regional parliaments across Europe.
The conundrum is that leaving the single market and the customs union is the only way for the UK to control its laws, borders and immigration and strike international trade deals. However, staying in the single market means that the UK would remain under the European Court of Justice. Allowing unlimited EU immigration under freedom of movement rules. So one can see that compromises will be needed…
The UK has agreed to the sequencing of the negotiations to this effect. Reciprocal citizen rights, the “divorce” bill and the Irish border question.
So, where do the two sides stand on these points?
There are currently 1.2 million Brits living in the EU and 3.2 million EU citizens living in the UK.
The EU position is that EU citizens must be able to continue to live in Britain. Including those who arrived just before Brexit day. And that they must be allowed to apply for UK citizenship and all the benefits that come with it. This would equally apply to Britons living in the EU. So on this point, both sides quite rightly agree.
The sticky point here is that the EU would expect the European Court of Justice to have jurisdiction over EU nationals in the UK for however long they live there. With a repeal bill and potential changes in employment laws to come post-exit, this could/would create perhaps a two-tier justice system.
The EU expectation is that the UK “pays up to what it had been committed to”. There hasn’t been an official figure issued. Speculations are that it could be about €60bn. Again difficult to stomach ( or to afford) from a UK perspective…
Both the EU and the UK wish to maintain a soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland; the question here will be how to achieve this. The UK wants to leave the single market and customs union.
What does this mean for UK businesses?
It is impossible to prepare for potential changes in immigration and employment laws, and this administrative burden can only be dealt with when the negotiations are concluded. This is because the UK has exited the European Union. For sure, though, there will be some impact (the extent to be determined) on recruitment and the UK future talent profile, with some industries affected more than others.
Companies should start preparing now by analysing the impact immigration changes would have on their own business and supply chain. The low to medium-skilled market is far more likely to be affected, with construction, hospitality and food manufacturing probably going to suffer the most by reducing EU migration.
I believe that proactive workforce planning will be crucial for businesses, and building a talent profile needs to start now with more varied people development avenues to address and raise the skill gap ( see my previous blog“)
Business (and HR) need to:
- tackle the supply of candidates
- consider broader demographics
- provide a blend of skills (Apprenticeship with no age restrictions?) creating intergenerational training
- Re-skill individuals and prioritise local talent, which might become non-negotiable in time, exploring all recruitment channels and looking at under-utilised groups.
There is a big world out there. So although it might be problematic in the short term, Brexit could be fascinating in exploring the wealth of worldwide talents outside the EU – controlled immigration does not mean any immigration after all.
THE BIGGEST HR TRANSFORMATION EVER
This could be the perfect proactive workforce planning in motion: a coordinated effort between the private and public sector, education and government to create a flexible, modular and scalable workforce/education plan and a consequent VISA allowance to address shortages in the country, plan which is regularly reviewed and amended as needed.
“Always bear in mind that your resolution to success is more important than any other one thing” – Abraham Lincoln.
‘ I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails always to reach my destination’. – Jimmy Dean.
And in the words of our own Winston Churchill:
“A Pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.
Brexit will be the most significant HR Transformation programme ever. If used effectively, it could turn on its head all old paradigms about employment, employability – who can do what – and that could be exciting.
So, how is Brexit going to look now?