Brexit and the travel industry – British firms losing workers

With Brexit looming and no clear plan in place for UK businesses who deal with Europe, the reality of Brexit and the travel industry is that travel workers are leaving the UK now.

The sixth LinkedIn Workforce Report published this spring states that in the first three months of 2018 more workers moved from the UK to other EU countries than arrived here to work. And those arriving from outside the EU could not offset the numbers leaving.

Migration has been steadily falling since the UK voted for Brexit, and LinkedIn’s data reveals that 26% fewer professionals arrived here from the EU over the last year. The UK has become less attractive to international talent, losing more professionals to the other 27-member nations of the EU than it gained from them.

Brexit and the travel industry

What Brexit means for the travel industry is a smaller pool of workers to choose from. Good news for British candidates, yes, but in the long term it may mean the UK falls behind with a less advanced and integrated travel market.

As travel recruiters, we have certainly noticed that the market is good for candidates at the moment, with the best candidates able to pick and choose top jobs more than ever before. However, the picture is less rosy for our clients, who report a drop in qualified travel talent. The LinkedIn report takes in responses from a survey of more than 600 recruiters and HR professionals to try and understand the experiences of talent professionals working in this changing environment. Nearly a third of recruiters questioned believe the UK is now less attractive to overseas candidates, and in London the number was far higher.

London travel industry and Brexit

London is the area most impacted by the Brexit vote. Since the referendum, the net inflow of EU talent into London has been declining – and now more people are leaving London to relocate to the EU than vice versa. Fifty-four percent of London recruiters say that these migration patterns are having a ‘big’ or ‘huge’ impact on hiring. LinkedIn’s data also revealed that migration around the UK is not filling the gap left by the reduction in international talent. It appears that the idea that the UK is a good place to come to further your career is no longer universally true.

These insights are drawn from the data of more than 24 million UK LinkedIn members, which represents more than 70 percent of the working-age population. I calculate there are 559,196 people listing ‘Leisure, travel and tourism’ as their industry in the 27 EU countries excluding the UK. The number in the UK is 175,089, which means that about 23% of the total EU travel industry is currently working in the UK. In total, some 1.7 million British jobs are generated by our national tourism industry, which accounts for roughly five per cent of total UK employment. It’s likely Brexit will reduce this percentage. Brexit and the travel industry are not happy partners.

Brexit and movement of workers

My fear is that if labour movement is restricted then there is no doubt salaries will have to increase in the UK to attract British workers. Holidays will become more expensive and the cost of visiting the UK will also increase. We might become a destination with the same reputation as Scandinavian countries, or Switzerland and Greenland, where everything is prohibitively expensive when you get there.

However, with the pound in a weak state, at the moment visitors are flooding in, meaning holidays within the UK are more popular than ever. Maybe this is where the growth sector will be. The weak pound is a pain for travel companies and for us Brits seeking to go abroad, but it’s enticing staycations and more overseas visitors. A huge 93 per cent of Brits took at least one holiday in the UK this year, according to research by Wonga.

However, the only certainty right now is uncertainty. For now, it’s still a wait-and-see game, which isn’t good for any travel businesses keen to plan ahead.

Brexit and travel businesses – next steps

Our advice re Brexit and the travel industry is to at least plan your recruitment strategy if you’re a travel employer. If you have workers from overseas, make sure you communicate with them and ensure their job is secure before Brexit. And if you have people thinking of leaving, contact us in plenty of time to get the best candidates in – and we can advise you how to ensure your travel business is an attractive set-up that people want to join.

Contact me on LinkedIn here to plan your travel recruitment strategy.

Read my colleague Bianca Pinkney’s blogs on keeping your top performers, and on how to formulate a good recruitment strategy