Brexit: In praise of immigration from a talent perspective.
I’ve worked for around 30 years in recruitment. I’ve lived and worked in several countries and run an executive search firm that has around 20 languages spoken at mother tongue level. I think I fall into the category of those better qualified to talk about the effects of Brexit from a talent perspective.
First of all, the good news: in my view, the impact of Brexit on demand levels for executives would be low to non-existent. There may of course be a secondary shock due to an economic downturn connected to a leave vote but I really can’t see a crush of French executives queuing for the next available Eurostar at St Pancras or an underclass of returnee British managers hitting the food banks of Surrey on June 24th. Demand for quality executive level talent either in to or hailing from the UK will not abate any time soon.
My worry is longer term and it concerns immigration versus the fertility rate.
A country needs a fertility rate of at least 2.1 children per mother in order to maintain a stable population. Any lower than that and your population is ageing. Come down as low as 1.3 as is the case in Spain and your economy is heading for economic disaster where twenty years from now you will have lost 25% of your entire working population. That’s 25% fewer tax payers to sustain the welfare of a pensioner population significantly larger than it is today.
The UK’s rate currently sits at around 1.9. Not great but OK. But it’s a known fact that the only reason this figure is not closer to the danger zone is immigration. We in the UK have immigrants to thank for keeping us in safe fertility territory. Our population is ageing, but only very slowly.
Now you can draw your own conclusion from this. Either you read the Daily Mail and you’ll contend that these immigrants are stealing our jobs and bumping us down the waiting list for our hip replacements and their children are muscling ours out of precious places at school or you’ll heed the lessons of our own very recent history and see that immigrants are generally well educated and whereas they’ll struggle to get the best employment opportunities immediately (due to language or local experience limitations), have a huge appetite for work and most importantly, will drive their children to perform better at school so that those children can access the sort of opportunities that were unavailable to them. And it is those very children who will be paying their taxes in twenty years from now when I and the remains of my baby boomer generation will thank them for helping to finance my winter fuel allowance. Germany stood at 1.06 and it’s now 1.43. Still dangerous but Merkel got it.
Immigration from a talent perspective = good thing..
Brexit from a talent perspective = no big deal immediately, catastrophic twenty years from now.
Why is nobody talking about the positives of immigration?