Wednesday 20 March 2019 8:11 am

DEBATE: Will the UK’s strong employment landscape be able to withstand the shock of a no-deal Brexit?

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Will the UK’s strong employment landscape be able to withstand the shock of a no-deal Brexit?

Lee Biggins, founder and chief executive of CV-Library, says YES.

While there’s no guarantee that the jobs boom will last if we came crashing out of the EU, the labour market has stood strong in the face of uncertainty for many years. Yesterday’s figures, which show UK employment at its highest since 1971 despite the current political turmoil, are proof of this.

UK workplaces are far more inclusive than ever before and this can only boost the national employment rate even further. Alongside this, net migration from outside the EU is at a record high, and our own data shows that EU professionals are still looking for work in Britain.

Moreover, organisations are offering competitive salaries in a bid to attract more people to their roles, ultimately boosting take-home pay and suggesting that employers are willing to pull out all the stops at a time when it may not seem feasible to do so.

With this in mind, while a no-deal Brexit would be less than ideal, we’re confident that the UK labour market has the potential to come out the other side even stronger.

Dr Victoria Bateman, lecturer and fellow in Economics at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, says NO.

Economists can be a pretty argumentative bunch, but are more united in their views on Brexit than virtually anything else.

The Bank of England suggests that unemployment could almost double in the event of a no-deal. Those seeking to hold onto their jobs will face two storms: on the demand side, reduced spending; and on the supply side, increased costs, tariffs, and disruption.

While some job losses such as in manufacturing will hit the headlines, just as worrying is “disguised unemployment”. For those who are self-employed or working in the gig economy, Brexit is likely to have its effect through reduced orders, eating into earnings without showing up in the unemployment figures.

With government finances under pressure in any downturn, there is unlikely to be adequate support for those left struggling. If you’re rich and “skilled”, global mobility always offers alternative opportunities. For others, that release valve will be firmly closed.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.