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HR fears Brexit will hit younger workers hard

25 Oct 2017 By Kitty Hafenrichter and Hayley Kirton

And young people agree; two in five say Brexit is causing them anxiety

Half (49 per cent) of HR professionals think Brexit will negatively affect workers aged between 18 and 30 in the short term, according to research published today.

In contrast, the poll of 800 HR decision-makers – run by YouGov on behalf of the Young Women’s Trust – found that just a quarter (25 per cent) felt that Brexit would be positive in the short term for younger workers.

Meanwhile, 46 per cent of those surveyed also thought the UK’s departure from the EU would have a negative effect on younger workers in the longer term. Just over a third (36 per cent) were more optimistic about young people’s future prospects.

“Employers and young people alike tell us they are worried about young people’s prospects post-Brexit,” said Dr Carole Easton, chief executive of the Young Women’s Trust.

A separate survey by the charity, which polled 4,010 18 to 30-year-olds, found that half (52 per cent) of young women felt worried about their future, compared with 42 per cent of young men. Two-fifths (41 per cent) of young women said they were struggling to make their pay packet last until the end of the month, compared with 28 per cent of young men.

Meanwhile, 42 per cent of people in this age bracket said Brexit was a cause of anxiety.

“Much more needs to be done to improve young people’s prospects,” said Easton. “This means giving them the right skills and support to find jobs, ensuring decent, flexible jobs are available, and paying a proper living wage that doesn’t discriminate against age. This would benefit businesses and the economy, too.”

The Young Women’s Trust’s findings come at a time when other research is warning of grim employment prospects for younger workers. A joint study by the Institute for Public Policy Research and Business in the Community, published in July, found that a fifth (22 per cent) of young graduates who were in jobs they felt overqualified for felt anxious or depressed, compared with just 16 per cent of those in professional or managerial roles.

Meanwhile, research from Accenture Strategy, also published in July, revealed that almost three-quarters (71 per cent) of recent graduates felt they were underemployed.

Other research has suggested that employers are worried about what will happen to their workforce once the UK gives up its EU membership. In June, the RES Forum Annual Report found that a third (34 per cent) of multinationals with operations in the UK were worried that attracting the right talent would be more difficult post-Brexit and, in February, a CIPD report revealed that 27 per cent of UK employers had seen evidence suggesting that EU nationals in their organisation were planning to leave their company, or the UK entirely, within the next year.

Office for National Statistics figures, released in August, showed that net migration had fallen to a three-year low, dropping to +246,000 in the year to March 2017, down 81,000 compared with the year before – the lowest it has been since March 2014.

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