Talent Acquisition

Attracting International Talent in the Wake of BREXIT: 5 Actions to Start Right Now

With the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (probably) fast approaching and predictions of an endemic skills shortage in the medium-term, it is clear that BREXIT will have serious implications for UK employers.

While much of available research has focused on the impact of BREXIT on the market for low-skilled employees from the EU, recent research conducted by EDHEC Business School’s NewGen Talent Centre suggests that the UK’s reputation as a place to advance the careers of highly-qualified New Generation talent from Europe is also under threat.

The report, which surveyed students across EDHEC’s Masters in Finance and Masters in Management Programmes, showed a significant portion (49%) of students are now less likely to seek or accept a position in the UK, while those reporting that they are not at all interested in coming to the UK has more than doubled. Key factors that weakened interest in the UK were uncertainty over the future changes to labor mobility, political and economic volatility, and a depreciating Pound.

With UK unemployment at its lowest in over four decades and the graduate job market predicted to grow by over 9% this year, not only must UK employers brace for the future challenges of BREXIT, they must also proactively devise talent attraction strategies to offset the declining interest of competitive, young talent from abroad.

Drawing from research and expertise of the NewGen Talent Centre, here are five actions UK recruiters can take right now to win the war for rising international talent.

1. Be proactive about promoting the UK as an employment destination

Whereas London’s multicultural, cosmopolitan edge once sold itself, employers now face significant competition from international hubs in ‘English-working’ Europe like Dublin, Amsterdam, and Berlin. International talent is drawn to innovative and progressive environments. Recruitment marketing must reinforce that the UK is still a forward-thinking, culturally pluralistic hub for global innovation.

2. Be honest about market uncertainty and institutional changes

One of the core values of international NewGen talent is transparency.  Some students reported being offered a position in the UK, only to learn after they accepted that their job was moving to the continent. One of the great qualities of Gen-Z is flexibility. They can roll with the punches, as long as they feel you were honest with them from the beginning.

3. Strengthen your relationships with the global education sector to improve links between skills demand and supply

It’s time to think beyond the Russel Group. Attending on-campus recruiting events, inviting students to visit your UK offices, and hosting virtual Information Sessions at leading universities throughout Europe are all great ways to engage with competitive international talent.

4. Recalibrate compensation in light of the GBP depreciation

If offering a salary bump to incoming graduates is impossible, you can also look to develop more attractive relocation packages and offer flexibility in benefits to draw in international talent in light of unattractive regulatory and institutional landscapes.

5. Re-frame your employer brand to focus on community, values, and impact

On a recent EDHEC visit to the Dropbox offices in Dublin, several students noted with praise that one of the meeting room doors was painted with a rainbow flag with the title “Vote Yes!”

Emerging international talent is drawn to welcoming, collaborative and deeply diverse corporate cultures. Driven by a strong team-spirit, they want to join companies that share their values, and make a real impact in work that matters. Recruitment marketing that leads with your purpose, interactions with recruiters and hiring managers that reinforce the company’s collaborative and open spirit and testimonials from recent graduates that speak to the tangible impact they are having in their current roles can serve as compelling differentiators.

About the author: Cassandra Pittman is EDHEC’s Country Manager for the UK and Ireland. EDHEC is a leading French business school, committed to nurturing future leaders to fuel innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity in the globally interconnected business world of tomorrow. EDHEC’s NewGen Talent Centre provides insight into the expectations and motivations of New Generation Talent. 

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