Last week the government published its Operation Yellowhammer paper – a report that stated the government’s ‘worst case’ planning assumptions for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. In a time when it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction, one paragraph stood out to me as being a fair reflection of my experience talking to business owners:
“Business readiness will not be uniform — in general larger businesses across sectors are more likely to have better developed contingency plans than small and medium sized businesses. Business readiness will be compounded by seasonal effects, impacting on factors such as warehouse availability.”
Stockpiling is happening up and down the country. Food, pharmaceuticals, parts, raw materials… you name it, someone, somewhere, is cramming a warehouse full of it. And it’s the generally the bigger companies with greater resources who have made a head start.
That’s not to say SMEs aren’t planning. Some can’t access the capital to put contingency plans in place, others back their ability to be nimble and quickly respond to the opportunities that Brexit will bring.
Very few companies that I have spoken to have a strategy for stockpiling staffing and skills and this is where we may be heading into a perfect storm. After October 31st, we are likely to have reduced access to migrant labour and the winter months are seasonal peaks for retail, hospitality, logistics and the care sectors.
These sectors are critical to our economy but all have historical dependence on EU employees who previously had the freedom to live and work here. The weak pound is also reducing the UK’s desirability as a place of work for those already in the UK as they may soon be able to earn considerably more elsewhere.
That said, we’ve had some fascinating meetings with companies looking to ensure they’ve got the workforce and skills they need to thrive in 2019 and beyond. Some of their strategies include:
- Actively supporting EU national workers to apply for settled status now
- Starting business loan applications now
- Increasing salaries of key people to ensure they (and their teams) stay in the business
- Up-skilling managers to give business owners time to prepare the company for Brexit
- Recruiting an accountancy apprentice to free CFOs up to follow OECD/government notes on contracts, VAT laws and financial regulations
- Undertaking a sector based work academy with CT Skills in order to quickly recruit a large cohort of trained and committed employees
- Developing an apprenticeship programme with CT Skills in order to attract and retain a pool of talented local people
CT Skills are offering ‘on demand’ support to you and your business to make sure you’ve got the staff and skills you will need both before and after Brexit. If you’d like to know more, call 0115 9599 544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a chat with me and Cath Albans at a time and a place to suit you.