Immigration law, the skills shortage and flexible working were all up for debate when Dorset businesses met to discuss the state of the local labour market, post-Brexit.
Engineering, IT, hospitality and professional services were among the many sectors represented at the forum What does a post-Brexit UK labour market look like and how can we best prepare? Hosted by leading law firm Steele Raymond LLP Solicitors and recruitment specialists TeamExecutive and TeamJobs at the Hilton Bournemouth (November 22).
Guest speaker Tom Hadley, Director of Policy & Professional Services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) told guests: “We may not know the full outcomes of Brexit at this stage, but as we approach this year of great change we need to ensure we, as employers, have the trusted information and support we need to face it.”
Tom stressed the need for more engagement with young people and schools to combat skills shortages, and suggested companies perform an overhaul of their often outdated recruitment processes to increase staff engagement, loyalty and retention.
He also encouraged businesses to consult their Chamber of Commerce and the REC for the latest information, as Brexit unfolds.
Simon Boyd, MD of Christchurch-based steel construction company REIDsteel, was amongst a panel of experts, chaired by Bournemouth Echo Business Editor Darren Slade, which also took questions from the audience.
Mr Boyd said: “I believe Brexit is a great opportunity…it’s about us taking back control, and business will adapt. The key is investing in productivity and getting rid of the enormous trading deficit with the EU.
“We can do this and we need to get into this mind set. British people are very resourceful and we need to look to the future and get on with it.”
Amy Cousineau Massey, Associate in the Employment Team at Steele Raymond dispelled some of the many myths and worked through some of the HR employment issues facing firms given three likely Brexit scenarios.
Suzie Tideswell Chief Human Resources Officer of Aeronautical & General Instruments (AGI), based in Poole, asked the panel for their thoughts on how Brexit might help women in business, and more specifically parents returning from maternity leave.
“I was very interested in what Tom Hadley and the other panel members had to say about the value of older workers and companies providing more opportunities for flexible working. I think it is vital to retain great staff and people now want flexibility and jobs which fit with them. I am also a great believer in the importance of engaging the future workforce through education.
“It has been very helpful to get other businesses’ perspectives on the key issues and concerns,” she added.
“The clarity for business owners on how the Brexit process is going to impact them is always going to be challenging so it was pleasing to be able to offer some meaningful discussions. Having listened to what Tom Hadley, our expert panel and the many questions posed by guests, I’ve been left with a sense of optimism and feel energised. Undoubtedly there is a lot of work ahead and important questions yet to be answered, but I feel more positive about what is to come and the opportunities Brexit can bring to all our businesses.”
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