Brexit: A silver lining for FE?

01 February 2017

01 February 2017 by MHA MacIntyre Hudson

Months have passed since the dramatic vote for Brexit and now further education colleges are starting to assess the long term effects of this decision on the sector. The good news is that prospects look far from bleak.

Prime Minister Theresa May stated recently that Article 50 (the EU law that allows for a two year negotiation of a UK exit) will not be triggered until the end of March 2017 at the latest. If this indeed does take place on time, we would not expect any enforced changes until 2018 at the earliest, giving colleges plenty of time to start exploiting a potentially rich silver lining for opportunity in the sector.

Slower growth goes hand in hand with education

Although Brexit does not necessarily mean a recession, it is likely that there will be slower growth in future – a natural response to uncertainty. With this comes a scarcity in the employment market; employers are looking to keep staffing levels constant and young people are more cautious of their options and their future career prospects. When these two factors collide, young people traditionally look to fill their employment gap by engaging in full- or part-time education to boost their skills.

More significantly, the Brexit decision also results in major training issues. The vote essentially reforms the workforce environment and adapts the skillset requirements of the population – this will also benefit FE colleges.

Skilled workforces that need retraining

A number of large employers, such as car manufacturers are threatening to move their operations abroad, with others already in the process of doing so. This means making staff redundant who have a specific skill set that is no longer required in the current market. The only realistic way this can be addressed is through education and taking their career in a different direction. FE colleges can help address this skills gap and essentially, people need colleges to survive and deal with the changes and uncertainty going forward.

Opportunities in hospitality

Hospitality is likely to be one of the hardest hit industries as a result of Brexit when the tightening of EU immigration comes into effect. A possible lower pound could increase tourism into the UK, further increasing the need for training of local hospitality workers to help fill the void left by skilled immigrant workers.

Overall, Brexit can open up a wide range of new prospects for all in the FE sector – the above is merely the tip of the iceberg. The key underlying message is that young people will always want an education. All that Brexit serves to do is increase the desire for education and to realign the skillsets required in order for the economy to thrive. Even taking into account the squeeze on immigration, it will be likely that there will be more young people than ever needing to train in a new skillset as they embark on a different career path. FE colleges need to not only see the darker side of Brexit, but identify Brexit as an opportunity going forward.

For further infomation, please contact your local MHA MacIntyre Hudson office or send us an enquiry.