So recently we were approached by a MSc student from the University of Portsmouth about our views on 'How would Brexit impact upon EU security guards in the UK' following our other blog posts on Brexit before which can be read here for the cleaning industry and here for security industry.
A lot has changed since our lasts posts on Brexit so we thought we would share the answers to his questions on an updated 2018 blog post with a little editing for more focus on the cleaning industry as both industries are quite similar. Enjoy!
How will (or has) Brexit affected the cleaning industry?
There is no doubt in my mind that the Brexit vote has already damaged the UK economy. In the medium term, further effects of Brexit on jobs and wages will be determined by the outcome of the future relationship deal with the EU and deals negotiated between the UK and other countries on international trade and the movement of labour. The key trade-off being debated is between free trade and control of the free movement of labour, albeit with some nuances in between.
Worryingly, recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people moving to the UK from EU countries has fallen to the lowest level for years. The cleaning industry relies heavily on low skilled workers from the from the EU and we are defiantly concerned about a lack of migrant workers post-Brexit.
2. What will you hope to see as the outcome of the EU-UK negotiations?
I would want the outcome to be along the lines of what some call a ‘soft Brexit’ whereas the free movement of people is retained.
The UK Government has stated its intention to introduce migration restrictions that will focus on attracting ‘the brightest and the best’ EU nationals to the UK. However, I believe this could have a particularly negative impact if implemented without an understanding of the needs of unskilled or low-skilled industries.
3. From your experience, what has been the contribution of the EU migrants ?
There is a lot of evidence that proves EU migrants are good for the UK economy and are more likely to be in employment compared to a UK national. In my own personal experience, I have particularly enjoyed the extra language skills EU migrants bring to the table - which can prove vital in challenging situations.
4. What is your view that, EU migrants are taking jobs from British citizens?
This point frustrates me as again research does not prove a significant impact of immigration on unemployment in the UK.
I would like to share a recent experience. We held a recruitment morning with over 25 people confirmed to attend an interview for a local cleaning position paying the living wage of £8.75 per hour – a high wage for a cleaning position in our part of the country. Out of the 25 confirmed interviews, only 5 turned up. Of those 5 not one was a British citizen. This is something I experience quite frequently as an employer in the cleaning and security industries.
5. a) As management, how has this affected your day to day business (if any), and what are the steps you have taken to address the issue?
I have noticed that potential customers are being very careful with what they spend their money on compared to before the Brexit vote. I believe more organisations are looking to keep their services in-house rather than outsource. I think many of our potential customers have put any non-operational spending on hold.
The industry already has problems with staff shortages proving an obstacle to fulfilling contracts. Recruitment is becoming very difficult at a time of low unemployment and a reduction in immigration. We have had to turn work away due to a lack of people to carry out that work. Recently we have taken a much more proactive approach to prepare for possible Brexit outcomes through workforce planning to understand more about where the risks and opportunities are going to come from and how we can ensure we have the resources to respond.
5. b) Have you been forced to re-think your recruitment strategy at all to re-align your business with a post- Brexit UK or it has been business as usual?
Yes, as we believe Brexit may worsen the staffing situation by reducing the flow of potential candidates, increasing the high turnover and making the employment administration for non-UK staff more difficult. Although, as there is still not much clarity on what the UK-EU future relationship will be it is quite difficult to plan properly. We have a rough strategy for different scenarios; however, we are also adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach to the final deal.
Some strategies we have already started using or planning for include: job rotation and mobility; improving staff retention; improving job attraction, and developing our ability to offer systems and automation that would reduce our labour needs.
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