Brexit Shadows - Pt. 3

A farewell to all those skilled, foreign workers who have decided that post- Brexit UK is not for them. The two most cited reasons for leaving are; future job prospects and the feeling that they are no longer welcome.

It is unlikely that the government's response of singling out those foreign workers working in the sectors identified in the current industrial strategy will generate a sense of well being. 'You can stay if we want you,' doesn't ring well with the old adage of 'open door for all in need.' So it is likely that 2018 will see an acceleration of net migration from these shores and businesses will need to adapt.

Finding skilled resource from within our current and future workforce is the challenge. The answer lies in our own resourcefulness, the ability to use what we have in front of us. This doesn't have to be second -best, Brexit will not prevent the free- flow of knowledge. Some solutions will result in the UK being the 'factory end' with the R&D completed offshore. However, for the majority of smaller businesses, innovation and design will have to be home grown and measured against the advances being made on the World stage. So how will we continue to compete with the best?

Don't look inward, look outward. Establish an export presence to test how your products compare with the best of foreign competition. And don't be British, if what you find abroad is better do some reverse engineering - it has been known! Production runs are getting shorter as automation averages out the wage element within manufacturing enabling businesses to customize products for the individual consumer. The UK is very good at short -run production which typically has a higher value- add per unit than the mass production.

Now look inward at your processes, procedures, job descriptions and reporting lines. Businesses have a tendency to duplicate job functions within different departments. As a simple example, a purchasing assistant will access the same stock information as the warehouse and engineering support staff. Companies that identify this overlap within job descriptions and functions will benefit from the merging of some jobs. But the real reward is the emergence of roles that are more satisfying for the job holder. Retaining and developing good staff will be a skill that all businesses will want to master.

Ultimately, our education system needs to come of age to provide the future workforce. At this critical juncture do we recommend leaving this to the politicians to get right? Unfortunately UK business doesn't have time for that but what can be done is much more positive; there are forward thinking businesses that are creating bridges into Universities and Higher Education. Employers can influence students’ study choices by providing a broader context of their business that is posted within an on-line community. Employers can talk to their potential new employees before they have completed their Higher Education.

For those of you that are working in businesses where everything is easy, we salute you. For the rest of us it's just a case of one more set of problems to solve!