While large numbers of recruiters remain concerned over the long-term impact of Brexit (perhaps more acutely so in the light of this morning’s news of a hung Parliament election result), many believe that the process of exiting the EU will drive stronger demand for contracting professionals and other short-term workers, a new study has found.

A survey from UK-based contractor solutions provider ADVANCE revealed that 42 per cent of recruiter respondents anticipated that demand for Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals will strengthen when the UK leaves the EU. Just 15 per cent expected this demand to weaken.

In total, 35 per cent of those polled said that they expect contractor demand to remain steady at existing levels between now and March 2019, while 20 per cent said that they are unsure.

Even so, 55 per cent expressed concerns that Brexit would have a negative effect on both their own recruitment businesses and the UK’s recruitment industry more broadly. More than a quarter (26 per cent) held the opposite view, that Brexit would have a positive effect, while 14 per cent expected no change.

Significantly, over half of those polled (52 per cent) reported no noticeable change in the levels of demand for contracting professionals since the Brexit verdict emerged following the June 2016 EU referendum. More than a quarter (27 per cent) reported rising demand for contractors, while 21 per cent said that they noticed a dip.

Shaun Critchley, Managing Director at ADVANCE, said that if Brexit is problem for recruiters, then this study’s findings show that contracting professionals are “very much part of the solution.”

The consensus among respondents, he said, appears to be that the UK labour market has been functioning more or less as normal since the Brexit vote, and it looks likely that it will continue to do so until the country formally leaves the EU.

He continued: “It’s at this point with the anticipated restrictions on immigration that recruiters expect to see a spike in contract and temporary hires.

“With Brexit talks due to start just 11 days after the general election, it’s important that whoever leads the negotiations for the UK listens to the concerns and wishes of the staffing industry. Recruiters are on the front line of the labour market and have a better understanding than most of the challenges we face in terms of skills and hiring.”

Additional findings from the study indicated a strong desire among recruiters for the next Government to focus on preserving tariff-free access to the single market. Overall, 73 per cent were in favour of this, nearly three times as many who were in favour of reducing immigration (27 per cent).

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