According to the latest Manpower Employment Outlook Survey (for Q4 2019), the current scramble is a “virtual re-run of behaviour” experienced at the beginning of the year ahead of the original Brexit deadline of 29 March.
“It’s Groundhog Day in the UK jobs market,” said ManpowerGroup Enterprise managing director James Hick. “The stockpiling of raw materials and goods surged in the first three months of 2019, driven by the need to protect supply chains against the potential impact of a hard Brexit. But they also did the same with their workforces, taking on staff to help navigate choppy waters. The extra economic activity even helped boost the UK’s growth figures in Q1 2019, before the surprise contraction in Q2.”
He added that the increasing likelihood of a no deal scenario on 31 October is seeing employers once again exhibiting symptoms of “stockhiring syndrome” in an attempt to Brexit-proof their businesses. “2019 turns out to be a U-shaped year, with weaker Q2 and Q3 data bookended by spikes in the first and last quarters.”
As a result, the employment outlook index has risen to +5%, its highest level for nine months, while the index for the finance and business services sector is now at +6%, its highest level for more than a year.
Wide knowledge of Brexit is clearly the skill to have at the moment. Olly Robbins, Theresa May’s chief Brexit negotiator, is to join Goldman Sachs as a managing director at the end of the year with a highly lucrative remuneration package several times larger than his pay as a top civil servant.