The recent announcement from the UK Prime Minister Theresa May highlights the real challenges of Brexit for Ireland, according to the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

The 2017 HR practices in Ireland survey of over 800 HR professionals in Ireland by CIPD Ireland, saw two-thirds (66%) report that maintaining the free movement of labour between Ireland and the UK was either extremely important or very important for their organisation.

Alongside the free movement of labour, key issues of concern to employers are the future of UK citizens in Ireland (42%), increased cost base and/or pay pressure (31%) as well as wider issues such as the transfer of personal data outside of EU (24%), the challenge of attracting talent from UK (23%) and the availability/cost of housing for incoming talent (19%).

Commenting on Brexit, Mary Connaughton, Director of CIPD Ireland, said: “Our members are responsible for strategic workforce recruitment, management and training and are consistently telling us their concerns over movement of labour and accessing key skills, which have greatly contributed to the growth of the Irish economy.

“We call on the Government to increase its efforts to have Ireland centre-stage in any EU negotiations on Brexit. It was encouraging to see Theresa May seek to protect the common travel area with the Irish State but the long-standing connections between the Irish and UK economies and labour markets need to be more widely acknowledged.

“The common trade and travel area between UK and Ireland, which preceded the EU, is under scrutiny, and it is not feasible to think that it won’t change in some form. The question is the extent and implications of that change: the likely rights of Irish and EU residents to travel and work in the UK, and vice versa.

“With exports from Ireland to the UK valued at over €1 billion a week, and 44% of Irish owned companies exporting to the UK, building skills capability in export marketing must be an immediate key area of focus to reduce our dependence on the UK market.

“As Ireland is the only English-speaking country in the Eurozone, we may well benefit from companies wanting to set up a new European hub here. This would be great for jobs, but add to the competition for high skills and property, and increase risks around staff retention and payroll costs as well.”

There are all important issues which must be addressed to minimise the risks in Ireland. The CIPD survey highlights these risks are posed at a time when three-quarters (78%) of HR professionals have been experiencing skills shortages in their organisation over the last 12 months. This is no longer confined to IT skills; significant gaps have also emerged in operations and support functions. However, it is also evident that companies are investing in the development of their current workforce. Two-thirds (63%) are engaging in upskilling the current workforce and 57% are increasing development opportunities.

2018 survey

The 2018 survey found that skills shortage remain persistent in organisations and greater emphasis is being placed on improving and maintaining levels of employee engagement as well as the creation of strong internal development opportunities for existing employees

See the survey results