Businesses drill down on the post-Brexit workforce

 A Question Time-style panel discussion was led by Darren Slade (right) Business and Technology editor of the Bournemouth and Dorset Echo and included: (left to right) Tim Stone, Chairman of Steele Raymond Solicitors LLP, Simon Boyd, MD of Christchurch-based steel construction company REIDsteel, Amy Cousineau Massey, Employment Solicitor at Steele Raymond Solicitoes LLP and Tom Hadley, Director of Policy & Professional Services at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Immigration law, the skills shortage and flexible working were all on the agenda 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 recruitment specialists TeamExecutive, TeamJobs and Steele Raymond Solicitors LLP, 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with young people and schools to combat skills shortages, and suggested companies perform an overhaul of their often outdated recruitment processes to increase staff engagement, loyalty and retention.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 on 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.”

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.

She said: “I was very interested in what Tom Hadley and the other 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.

Jason Gault, MD of Dorset based TeamExecutive and TeamJobs, which hosted the forum, said: “I came into this event feeling somewhat jaded by the whole Brexit process. But having listened to Tom Hadley, our expert panel and the many questions posed by guests, I feel energised.

“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.”