As the Brexit clock ticks ever nearer to the UK’s March 2019 departure from the EU, companies are still in the dark on how a hard or soft Brexit might affect them and their workforces. Will there still be free movement for talent across the EU? Will international M&A still be possible? Will any major employers, such as financial services companies, decide to headquarter outside of the UK? All of these unanswered questions are increasing the demand for one thing: interims.
As it stands, despite the waiting game companies are being forced to play, markets are still competitive, so simply waiting for the outcome is not an option. Smart organisations are already reviewing their recruitment strategy and preparing a number of contingency routes for the potential outcomes of the Brexit negotiations. In some of these scenarios, a permanent hire is not something they are able to financially commit to until they know which path the UK is on, so an experienced interim professional is a short-term, specialist solution. One recent report has shown a 30% spike in the demand for interims since the UK voted to leave the EU, with interim vacancies for senior accounting professionals rising 57% over a 12-month period.
Interims enable a company to continue to be flexible and remain competitive while the Brexit negotiations take place. Interim CFOs, CTOs and finance professionals are in huge demand, particularly those with project or change management experience. Risk and compliance specialists, who can react accordingly as soon as any new regulations or working practices are established, are also much sought after. Interim transformation specialists or HR professionals with employment law experience are all being sourced for interim roles.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, the UK is likely to face a skills shortage in 2019, particularly in light of whatever new employment regulations come into force. A recent KPMG survey of highly qualified EU talent currently working in the UK revealed that almost a million of them are planning to either leave the country or have already decided to do so following Brexit. A Brexit brain drain is therefore a real possibility over the next few years, which will bring a new war for talent for UK employers to fight. And those who are making plans now, with interim talent leading their way, are going to be best placed to win it.