With three months having now passed since the outcome of the EU referendum, John Morris, CEO at JAM Recruitment takes a look at how the result has impacted the job market and production within the engineering and manufacturing industries.

Whilst the initial reaction to Brexit was one of concern, three months on, we’re yet to see a change to the market – we certainly haven’t seen the levels of disruption that were predicted. We’ve placed hundred’s of engineers across the likes of BAE Systems and GE over the last three months, and we actually started to see a growth in contract jobs in August – something that can be seen as a real positive for UK employment.

The overall impact

Despite initial warnings of job cuts, leading to increased skills shortages in engineering and manufacturing, the market hasn’t seen a great amount of change. Unemployment is still holding up at an 11-year low of 4.9%, which is incredibly promising. However, it’s too early to draw solid conclusions about the impact Brexit will have on employment rates, especially as Article 50 is yet to be triggered.

What does it mean for engineering and manufacturing?

Contrary to the initial predictions, recent reports have shown that British manufacturers have enjoyed rising output and a steady flow of new orders over the past three months, meaning Brexit didn’t deliver an immediate blow to businesses. Further to that, a recent REC report highlighted that engineering was the second most sought-after job category when it came to permanent staff, showing that any dip in confidence within the sector was short-lived.

What will the future bring?

The recent Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry report found that while demand for qualified engineers is increasing in the UK, the education system fails this industry by not producing engineers that are fully prepared and experienced enough. As a result, the best option for employment would see the UK Government ensuring that STEM subjects are given more of a push, which will better equip our future workforce.

To ensure that there remains access to skilled engineers in the UK, it’s crucial that the government doesn’t stifle access to the skilled candidates with its immigration policy. Whilst we do have an incredibly strong network of skilled professionals in the UK, the freedom of being able to recruit staff from Europe is still hugely beneficial, especially within the industries where there is a well-recognised skills shortage.

Whilst we wait for the activation of Article 50, it’s essential that we continue to work closely with clients to ensure that we’re taking preventative steps to minimise the impact Brexit may have. This will mean continuing to attract students to the UK industry, whilst also investing in up-skilling those already working within the sector.

Written by John Morris, CEO at JAM Recruitment


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Europe has led the world in improving building standards with the UK having played a key role in their development. But after the momentous day that was June 23rd and the UK economy appearing now to have weathered that initial vote-to-leave shock, where does that leave the construction industry in terms of EU regulations?

The British Standards Institution (BSI) is one of 33 voting members of CEN (European Committee for Standardisation). However CEN rules state that you can only join CEN if you are a member of the EU or about to become a member. In the case of non-EU countries including Norway and Switzerland, their membership in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) qualifies them as well. When the UK finally leaves the EU it will therefore be essential for the UK to rejoin EFTA otherwise the BSI will have to argue for a change in statutes of CEN so that they can continue their membership of this organisation. And in that scenario, there may well be a lot of political pressure to keep us out.

But then what does that mean for the UK and what is the scenario of the UK walking away from the EU standard table? Any product intended for sale in the EU must meet the relevant EU standard. Non-compliance will clearly restrict markets. One of the key things about EU standards is that they do ensure a level playing field and are considerably better than each country having a different standard and system of compliance.

To add to this, the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) has, since 2014, mandated that all products produced for sale in the EU provide a declaration of performance and visible CE mark. In their BREXIT negotiation, the UK Government would be able to ignore the CPR and revert to BS standards instead of BS EN standards. This scenario seems unlikely as this would complicate matters with the possibility of two-tier standards. And that might a have a knock-on effect for manufacturers with variable production runs and increased stock levels.

And how does an EU standard compare to BS? Some BS testing is outdated and not as relevant to real-life scenarios. We tend to cling to some out of ‘habit’ when more representative standards exist. One such example is the adherence/preference of the UK to BS476 testing regimes for curtain wall perimeter fire barriers, when a specific EN test standard EN1364 offers a far more representative test option. The BS 476 standard tests curtain wall perimeter fire barriers in a static assembly, whereas the EN1364 tests simulate the dynamic movement of the curtain wall façade, which we would contend is a far more sensible and robust option. Siderise is amongst a very few suppliers who have opted for the EN1364 test, as we see it as far more representative of “real life”.

At the moment the UK has a vote and we can influence EU standards, and on occasion we could in theory ‘block’ standards that we did not like or at least modify them. One scenario is that we can go to meetings post-BREXIT, provide technical input, but in the end not have a vote – unless of course we negotiate some arrangement whereby we are allowed to vote. But that would appear to be fraught with difficulties. Whatever the outcome, we must not fall out of step with Europe. The costs to industry of totally abandoning EU standards are so vast as to be too horrible to contemplate.

By Chris Hall, Commercial Development Office, Siderise