In the aftermath of Brexit, reports emerged of Ireland – and Dublin in particular – benefiting from UK workers seeking an EU refuge. Is it true, though?
Prior to 24 June, the UK’s position in the EU appeared solid. Employment in London – a European hub for start-ups, tech and financial services companies – was a boundless treasure trove of opportunity for skilled workers coming from far and wide.
Then the count of the EU referendum, which had taken place the day before, sent shockwaves throughout the UK, the Union and the world as a whole.
In the 48 hours following the news breaking of the 52pc majority voting for the UK to leave the EU, the number of Indeed job searches made from the UK, eyeing up moves to the rest of the EU, surged.
Figures from Indeed showed immediately noticeable spikes in the 12 hours after the announcement, with Ireland receiving 2.5-times the usual amount of job searches from the UK.
And, because the UK was less desirable to other EU citizens, people from other countries sought out positions in Ireland, with almost the same rate of increase coming in the 12 hours post-Brexit.
Cool the jets
However, that trend hasn’t really continued. This is probably because, while the immediate media response to the Brexit result was unabashed terror and fear, spiking concerns around the UK and the wider EU region, that fear didn’t last.
The mysterious, terrifying future became the relatively standard present which, though still very concerning, led to a dissipation in fear and panic.
“It has kind of levelled out,” said Mariano Mamertino, an economic research analyst at Indeed. “Though it is still a little above normal, search traffic away from the UK is back to where it was, roughly.”
The UK’s exit from the EU is not imminent, so the need to move is not so prominent in people’s minds, perhaps. But that 12-hour snapshot into what the UK sans EU will act like is telling.
Last May, Indeed’s larger report into job seeking throughout the EU found London as a major attraction. The UK was the ‘most desirable country’ for workers from a selection of 15 EU member states, with the English capital proving key.
In actual fact, the UK was one of just three states that enjoyed more job searches from people looking to immigrate than it did job searches from those looking to emigrate. Luxembourg and Netherlands were (just about) the other two.
Dynamic labour market
At the time, Mamertino told me this was for a handful of reasons. English speaking is a big thing, but cosmopolitan areas like London help, too. However a really key contributing factor is the UK’s “dynamic labour market”.
“In a bad time, a lot of people would be fired in the UK,” he said. “Then, when times get good again, hiring people picks up way faster than say France, or Italy. These countries are structured in a way that less people are fired during bad economic times, but hiring is really slow… because it’s hard to hire in fire.”
One country that shares such a set-up is Ireland, meaning any spill-over from interest towards the UK could conceivably end up here. Therefore, any dramatic fleeing from the UK could do likewise.
“I think it’s hard to predict,” said Mamertino, though he acknowledges that, given the plethora of financial services companies based in the UK, a withdrawal from the EU would force them to move as soon as that happened.
“There are different options in this case,” he said. “Dublin, Paris or Frankfurt are possible destinations. Dublin is possible because of language, proximity, the skilled labour force and the established financial services industry located in Dublin. It would be easier for a bank with English-speaking workers already working here than say Paris.”
Supply and demand
Given that the interest from both the UK and the EU was immediately focused on Ireland after the referendum result, it seems these predictions may come to pass when the culmination of Brexit is finally achieved.
However, in an extreme example of that scenario, there would be far too much interest for Ireland to satisfy, with the scale of London able to absorb far more workers to-ing and fro-ing than, say, Dublin.
Yet, Mamertino sees only opportunities. Citing a “relative position of health” in Ireland, he said those from around the EU tend to look for work in countries that are performing better than their own.
“They move to healthier labour markets, where more wages are the norm and opportunities are increased. Ireland – in comparison to Italy, Spain, Portugal, eastern Europe or even France – is in a position of relative strength.
“Employers in Ireland will be able to attract talent from other EU markets because of this. Add in the UK leaving the EU and all of a sudden there is less competition, too.”
Looking for jobs in tech or science? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.
Main flag image via Shutterstock