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What can we expect from Brexit and how could this affect the contractor market?


At Liberty Bishop we are far from experts on Brexit (Who is?), but with the EU leaving date looming fast, we thought it essential to examine what might happen when the UK exits the European Union. Welcome to the great unknown!

Brexit, a word that conjures horror and delight in equal measures. Whichever way you voted, it matters little as we barrel towards the 29th March 2019. The big question now is what can we expect from Brexit?

The UK government and the EU have come to an agreement on the rights of EU citizen’s post-Brexit. Until the 1st January 2020, workers from the EU will continue to enjoy the same rights they always have, allowing both entities time to reach an agreement before the 2020 deadline. This is great news (for the moment) as this extension will help keep essential workers from leaving, pre-Brexit.

At the beginning of 2018, net migration from the EU was overtaken by migration from non-EU countries. In 2017 the total number of migrants from European countries was 220,000, down 47,000 from the previous year. The number of EU citizens leaving the UK last year totalled 130,000, the highest number since 2008. What do these numbers mean to you? A great number of EU migrants were skilled, experienced, educated professionals that brought with them considerable talents that organisations across the UK have been making use of for many years. That is now, unfortunately, coming to an end.

This steady migration back to the home countries of EU citizens is leaving skills gaps in every industry and specialism of which need to be plugged and quickly. This reverse migration is opening a huge number of contract vacancies an the competition for contractors is heating up. This is succinctly highlighted by the rapid increase in day rates for contractors. Using the IT contract market as an example, the most common developer roles have seen an increase in daily rates being offered compared to this time last year. If the trend continues, next year will see significant rises in advertised rates for contract roles.

There is currently a monumental list of in-demand occupations being advertised by the UK government to foreign applicants via the UK Visa Bureau website. We shan’t bore you with the complete list, but it includes software developers, engineers, medical practitioners, musicians, graphic designers (the list is extensive). There are a glut of opportunities available RIGHT NOW. This is an excellent omen for the near and distant futures. The UK is packed full of companies researching, developing, and launching products that are leading the world in innovation and they need the highly skilled contractors to help complete their missions!

We could speculate and write plenty more on what might happen as a result of Brexit. We could be super-negative and tell you the UK will grind to a halt. No food, no medicine, the army patrolling the streets to quell the Brexit riots. Or, we could tell you that the UK is about to enter a dreamlike state of growth, with trade deals being signed by nations queuing up to do business with the UK. The reality is we don’t know and neither, would it seem, does the rest of the country. Reading the data available suggests more EU citizens will leave the UK until a formal arrangement on workers’ rights can be reached. Consequently, the number of contract vacancies will increase, the day rates will follow and the contract market for the UK freelancer should look quite healthy.

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