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Brexit’s Impact On Job Search

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Freedom of movement, long-enshrined as a key pillar of the EU, will soon be a thing of the past for UK citizens following the Brexit vote. But what, if anything, will replace it?
And how will the referendum result affect the three million EU citizens who currently live and work in the UK?

Businesses and banks dislike uncertainty, of course – and so do jobseekers. After the results were announced international job portal Indeed saw a huge spike in job searches for leaving the UK, and surges of interest towards EU-member Ireland but also other English-speaking job markets, located far from Europe. This data can provide us with a snapshot of how labour markets are responding to Brexit.

When we study the UK-to-EU job search a little more closely, we find that Ireland was a major beneficiary of the post-Brexit surge. At their peak, job searches from the UK to Ireland on 24 June (the day the result of the referendum was announced) were 2.5 times higher than the average in the days before the vote. Jobseekers were looking for work in fields including marketing, human resources, engineering, transport and retail.

In fact, UK interest in Ireland was strong even before the referendum, as the Irish government reported a surge in applications for Irish passports from UK citizens with Irish ancestry. In the immediate aftermath of the referendum, Ireland’s minister for foreign affairs asked UK citizens seeking passports to slow down as they were in danger of overwhelming the system.

With the UK out of the EU, Ireland becomes the only country with access to the common market where English is spoken as a first language by the majority of its citizens. Perhaps in the future, we will see international banks and businesses moving from London to Dublin.

The vote for Brexit also led many UK-based jobseekers to search for work abroad, but beyond the borders of the EU.

In fact, searches from the UK to the rest of the world were 73% higher at their peak on 24 June than the average in the days before the results of the referendum were announced

It is important to note, however, that even before the referendum UK jobseekers looking for work abroad were least likely of all EU citizens to search inside the EU itself. In fact, more UK job search was targeted at the US than at the rest of the EU put together.

Even so, it is striking that after the vote to leave the EU, there was a mini-Brexit on Indeed, as significant numbers of people started searching for work outside the bloc altogether.

In Canada, job search from the UK was 4.2 times higher than the average in the days before the results of the referendum were announced— a much bigger spike than observed in Ireland and the EU. In other English-speaking job markets there was also a jump. In the US, job search from the UK increased by 1.7 and by 1.9 in Australia.

So while post-Brexit job search patterns show that many jobseekers in the UK are still oriented towards the EU, many others feel strong ties to the ‘anglosphere’ of UK’s former colonial territories. The Brexit vote served to intensify this interest.

UK employers have historically benefitted from the ability to recruit talent from overseas, and many Britons have seized the opportunity to live and work in other EU countries.