By Kate Berry & Sally Blaxall QHQ (q-hq.com)
It is vital that the Brexit deal includes the continued opportunity for international talent to work within Europe and the UK without restriction. The industry thrives on the movement of talent, ideas and innovation, particularly on the technical sideand we hope to see a future where international opportunities increase. The UK has a reputation for producing consultants with very strong technical skills - international brands are currently recruiting across for technical skills and often look to the UK market for expertise.
Certain sectors in fashion manufacturing are heavily dependent on skills from Europe. For example, pattern cutters, graders and CAD technicians and sample cutters are frequently from Eastern Eu-rope. In recent times, 80% of our job applicants for pattern cutters and graders roles were not UK nationals. These are all professions, using CAD systems e.g. Gerber, Vertigraph - skills which are internationally very transferrable. In the past decade, this sector of the industry has been very buoyant. Currently, many of these people work flexibly from their home nations and travel to the UK during peak seasons e.g. for London Fashion Week. There is now some uncertainty about how Brexit will affect these working practices - leading to an unpredictable job market and possible skills shortage.
In the opposite direction – QHQ have recently been recruiting for positions in Switzerland, France and Germany that would normally attract multi-lingual candidates back to their home country. We have some excellent candidates from Europe who are currently living in UK but they do not wish to apply for these roles as they don’t want to risk leaving the UK before they reach five years of conti-nuous residency.
At the moment, UK candidates applying for European positions are not largely affected but there is still a general lack of understanding of Brexit and hesitancy to move in the current climate. We pre-dict that the numbers of European / International Technologists permanently resident in the UK will probably remain fairly stable and static for another one to two years until Brexit has settled and people are confident to move around internationally…and then there will be an exodus.