Brexit would cause chaos for the recruitment industry and wider economy, warns Sellick Partnership
Jo Sellick, managing director of Sellick Partnership
We have only days to go until the EU Referendum, yet many people are still undecided about the vote. I have recently attended a number of events on the issue, including roundtables and debates where people from both sides of the argument expressed their views. And while there are undeniably some convincing arguments both for and against, I remain firmly of the opinion that I held as soon as the referendum was announced; that staying within the EU is the only sensible solution, both for the recruitment industry and for the British economy as a whole.
In the recruitment sector we are fortunate to have a daily snapshot on the state of the country’s economy. We can quickly see where there is supply and demand and this always paints a very telling picture of how well businesses are performing. At the same time, we are also given an insight into where labour comes from and we clearly rely heavily on foreign workers across many sectors. The agricultural and care industries are two of the most obvious that spring to my mind when considering European labour and the terrible shortfalls we would suffer if this valuable source of manpower were suddenly slashed.
But my bigger concern is what would happen to the economy as a whole if the UK votes to leave the EU. Years of negotiations would be required for a Brexit, while the government negotiates with global leaders about the extent of our withdrawal and future role - if any - within the EU. This uncertainty would have an immediate and devastating impact on the economy. The director of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, has himself said that the Brexit poses the “biggest domestic risk to financial stability". Thousands of jobs could be at risk and this would have a knock-on effect on recruiters, possibly hitting our industry as hard as the 2008 crisis, from which we are only just recovering.
This is definitely a possibility, particularly since there seems to be a worrying level of apathy on the ‘remain’ side, while Brexit voters are seemingly more passionate about their belief that the UK would be better off alone. I have recently been contemplating what the country would look like if the ‘leave’ argument wins and I can only imagine complete and utter chaos - both financially and politically. It is not inconceivable that the Conservative party would be sent into meltdown, with a leadership debate ensuing. David Cameron would no doubt be under extreme pressure to resign and there may well be a vote of confidence against the Conservative majority, which could lead to Parliament being dissolved and a general election being called. This might sound extreme, but this scenario and many others are perfectly possible in the unstable environment that would result from a vote to leave.
Instead, I would urge recruitment leaders to join forces and unite in a ‘remain’ vote. Other industries have done this successfully, such as the legal profession, which has secured over 200 signatories from members of the Lawyers In for Britain group. Our political parties might not be able to come to a unanimous decision within each camp, but I feel confident that the recruitment industry is capable of a coherent, firm vote in the same direction. As we enter the final days of debate I am urging my peers to do their research and come to a sensible decision for the good of the sector and the economy as a whole.