Half of employers say Brexit will worsen skills gap

Date: 09/02/2018
Author: Robert Walters
Company: Robert Walters

  • 65% of employers believe they will face a shortage of skilled professionals in 2018
  • The shortage will be most acute at the junior and mid management level, according to half of employers (52%)
  • One in four businesses (23%) say Britain is not prepared to compete on a global stage due to the skills gap
  • Half (50%) say that they believe Brexit will exacerbate skills shortages

Almost two thirds of employers (65%) believe that they will be negatively impacted by skills shortages in 2018, according to a research paper entitled “Solving the UK Skills Shortage” from Robert Walters, totaljobs and Jobsite.

Perhaps most worryingly, half of employers surveyed believe the skills shortage will be exacerbated by Brexit. Due to the skills gap the country is facing, 23% believe that Britain is not prepared to compete on the global stage, which will become even more important following the UK’s exit from the European Union in 2019.

David Clift, HR Director, totaljobs comments: “As we head closer towards Brexit employers will have to think differently about how they attract and retain the best talent from across the globe. For current staff, training will be key to closing any skills gaps, and giving employees the confidence that the businesses they work for can help them fulfil their career ambitions.

“When it comes to attracting staff, employers will have to look to different industries to find the transferable skills that are essential to grow. This means that there will be more opportunities for skilled candidates to use their knowledge and experience in different sectors, providing them with new challenges and opportunities in industries that they may not have considered before.

“Shortages are likely to be particularly severe at the junior and mid-management, partly due to the long-term impact of the 2008 financial crisis, when levels of graduate recruitment fell sharply.

“Employers looking to find long-term solutions to the current skills shortage should focus on engaging with and informing graduates and university students of the opportunities available in their industry.”


  •  28% of employers would target professionals from other fields who possess transferable skills and 49% would use internal training to upskill staff
  • 57% of candidates would look for roles in other fields where their skills would be transferable
  • 48% of candidates believe that employers should partner more effectively with local universities and educate students on potential career paths and 48% believe that they should offer work placements

Chris Poole, Managing Director, Robert Walters Manchester, comments:  “The long term effects of Brexit are still unclear, and businesses will need to ensure that they are in a position to adapt as the economic and political environment rapidly shifts. Clearly, the potential for skills shortages is a source of concern for many employers after Britain leaves the EU.”

“Businesses will need to develop new strategies to address this challenge, considering alternative sources of talent and ensuring that they are in a strong position to attract, recruit and retain the most sought after professionals.”

Chris Poole adds: “Considering candidates who possess transferable skills from other professional backgrounds may be a cornerstone of these strategies, particularly given that it will also allow employers to bring in staff with different perspectives and ideas.”

“In addition to short term strategies such as this, employers should consider engaging with schools, colleges and other educational institutions to build a long term talent pipeline. By establishing relationships with these organisations, businesses can ensure that students are aware of the opportunities they can offer and the skills they will need to develop in order to thrive in their chosen field.”

For further information, please contact Alan O'Doherty on alan.odoherty@robertwalters.com or 020 7509 8839.