The staffing industry has already begun to assess Prime Minister Theresa May’s “Brexit” speech yesterday with rejoinders from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Describing the contents of Mrs May’s speech as cool comfort for UK employers, REC CEO Kevin Green declared that the Government’s planned objectives will jeopardise the UK jobs market. By exiting the single market, UK businesses will find access to EU workers curtailed.

Mr Green said that there is a need for more nurses to take care of the ageing population, as well as seasonal workers so that UK farmers can continue to deliver, and an increase in people who can build houses. “The reality is that we have near-full employment; the idea that there are hundreds of thousands of UK nationals waiting in the wings to take these jobs is a fantasy.”

He criticised the PM for peddling the fiction that immigration has depressed UK pay. The REC, he added, is entreating Government to carefully consider its planned immigration restrictions before it puts the UK jobs market into reverse and threatens the country’s future prosperity. His organisation is ready to help the Government identify solutions.

Peter Cheese, CEO of CIPD, welcomed the details of Mrs May’s speech for adding a little more clarity for UK businesses concerning what the Government is aiming to attain in EU negotiations.

However, he too emphasised the danger to the UK economy of restricting access to talent from both non-EU and EU countries. Despite the Government’s declared goal of controlling the country’s borders, he said, a managed, flexible immigration system that enables businesses to access much-needed talent from outside the UK is still possible.

Urging the Government to fully engage with employer bodies and organisations to make sure that their opinions are taken into consideration in any potential deal that the PM endeavours to negotiate, Mr Cheese added: “Given the implications for migration, it’s more important than ever that businesses look ahead and plan their people strategies, and understand the skills and talents they need in order to ensure that they are prepared for the future, regardless of what the final arrangements look like.”

While the PM may have dispelled the charge that she and her team have no idea where they are going with EU negotiations, many imponderables and unknowns remain and are unlikely to become clarified for some considerable time.

In the inevitable climate of uncertainty that this is liable to generate, employers may be inclined to increase their use of skilled Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals to ensure business-critical projects are completed on an as-and-when-needed basis.

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