Should I stay or should I go now?

Brexit anxiety is a reality for professional, skilled and trades specialists with little or no experience of a pre-EU Britain. This mood may present a once in a generation opportunity for New Zealand companies seeking to recruit highly skilled workers who are asking: ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

When Clash front man Mick Jones wrote these lyrics, he could not foresee how exquisitely they would capture Brexit’s dilemma almost forty years later. In 1981, Margaret Thatcher still supported the single market created by integrating the United Kingdom into the EEC.

Over the following decades, UK businesses benefited from the free movement of skilled EU workers. But Thatcher’s heirs struggle to reconcile a desire for open markets with concerns over membership’s liabilities. Business hates uncertainty and today no-one is sure if they’re coming or going. Or which consequences are worse – remaining within or leaving the EU?

So how can Kiwi employers recruiting in the UK successfully navigate Brexit’s complexity?

If I go, there will be trouble.

Despite predictions of post-Brexit doom and gloom, for many it is still true that London’s calling. Unless they’ve experienced the scale and attractions of the British economy, Kiwis can underestimate its resilience and the appeal of the lifestyle. As UK businesses brace for a range of scenarios, they will also seek to secure their best and brightest employees and reassure skilled EU born workers that they are still valued.

Now, more than ever, New Zealand business must present positive messages about our unique advantages for potential migrants. This is because destinations, like Canada and Australia, are targeting the same prospects with more effort than usual. Negative messages should also be avoided, as there is no way of knowing how Brexit will resolve, or its medium to long term implications.

And if I stay it will be double.

Mick Jones and Margaret Thatcher – divergent examples of Britain’s political spectrum who highlight the importance of staying impartial. Individuals on all sides of this issue may see Brexit uncertainty as a spur to reconsider career options. It would also be unwise to default to ignoring the skilled EU professionals who may also be open to new professional and personal options.

Successful re-location depends on migrants seeing New Zealand as a positive career move and not a politically driven grudge purchase. This is especially true for the Kiwi diaspora who may consider returning home after starting careers and families overseas. Surface familiarity with Kiwi culture may mask negative preconceptions about New Zealand, so they must be won-over just as much as international prospects.

One day it’s fine and next it’s black.

The final point is to balance rational and emotional motivations for living and working in New Zealand. Re-locating a family is a huge upheaval. Media headlines may spur reconsideration of career choices, but powerful motivations of security, culture and familial ties work against radical choices. Underlying emotional drivers must always be factored into winning a desired candidate. Relevant information beyond the role such as: details on schooling, holidays or cultural networks can help sell a position where rational factors cannot.

Well, come on and let me know.

Regardless of how Brexit unfolds, desirable candidates will always have options and potential uncertainty does not mean waves of Brexit refugees are heading to New Zealand. That said, New Zealand remains to be a highly sought after location to emigrate to and Working In New Zealand will be arranging interviews in the UK for New Zealand employers in early 2020.

Irrespective of Brexit, meeting people face to face is always highly productive. Especially if they’re looking for certainty, and also because the UK weather at that time of year always makes the locals yearn for our lifestyle and the professional possibilities we can provide. To find out more about how we can help you hire skills from the UK, please contact us

Brexit 101 for Kiwi employers:

  • Don’t underestimate the continued professional appeal of the UK. We need to focus on the benefits of living and working in New Zealand, and avoid negative messages.
  • Despite Brexit anxiety, New Zealand companies must bring their A-game to win top talent. Especially as rival destinations and current employers are targeting them too.
  • Prepare for a diverse range of Brexit related enquires. UK, EU citizens and ex-pat Kiwis will all be reviewing their professional and personal prospects.
  • Despite economic uncertainty, relocation is always an emotive matter. Ensure you cater to underlying emotional motivations that will influence a ‘rational’ decision.