Brexit: No Deal, No Gap Year?

Hands up if you’re sick of hearing about Brexit.

Brexit talks, Brexit deals, Brexit no-deal… That’s the newest one, the no-deal. Amidst the hum of brexitbrexitbrexit, it took me a while to care enough to read up on it. Yes, I’m bored of Brexit but I also realise it’s my responsibility to stay informed.

A ‘no-deal’ situation would happen if the UK and the EU can’t agree on terms and decide to stop talking about it. That is a very crude and reductive way of stating it though so I recommend reading a bit more on it. I found this Guardian article pretty helpful.

Naturally, this will affect everyone in some way or another so I decided to be selfish and research what it would mean for people like me: students and graduates. I finish my undergraduate degree next summer and the expected ‘leave’ date is twelve months after that. How would a no-deal Brexit impact us?

Well, living and working in Europe is not going to be as easy as it has been. In 2016, Theresa May predicted two years of freedom of movement, whilst others suggested four. At the moment, UK citizens can live and work in 28 countries. Post-Brexit, we won’t have so many options and if we decide we do want to move to a different European nation, they’re not likely to make it a walk in the park.

I wasn’t planning on leaving England permanently but I do love a good holiday. On my ridiculously long list of places I want to travel to, most of them are in Europe (Italy is number one if anyone fancies paying for me). I can’t plan too far ahead though as airlines have warned that any flights beyond March 2019 cannot be guaranteed nor compensated for.

Inter-railing was a serious option for me at some point in the near future but nope, that’s also going to be difficult. For now, I can cross so many borders visa-free with my UK passport. In less than two years’ time, I can forget all about that.

Okay, so poor me can’t realistically go on a gap year if I wanted to. What about something more long-term and much more important, like the job market?

At the moment, I am on a frantic search for a career, sending off applications like jobs going out of fashion. That’s the thing – they kind of are. Finding a job out of university is notorious for being difficult but there is the potential for it to get so much harder. A study before the vote showed that 49% of employers would take on less graduates if the UK left. Why?

“The 3 key reasons cited for downsizing graduate hires under Brexit are
(i) the impact of Brexit on the economy and therefore on the volume of business;
(ii) general uncertainty; and
(iii) a lower talent pool of EU graduates applying for jobs.”

The “lower talent pool” is interesting. Maybe that means there will be more jobs? In a pre-vote article, the Guardian reported:

“If UK companies were unable to freely hire EU graduates as a result of Brexit, 25% of employers said they would be likely to increase recruitment of British graduates.”

So is it possible that more vacancies will emerge with less competition? On the other hand, if the economy and the trade agreements go tits up and we end up with no deal, then businesses will have to reduce their employment. Who will go first? Us: the untrained, overeducated and inexperienced. In addition to that, there were repeated arguments from Remain supporters during the campaign that “immigrants put more in to the economy in terms of taxes than they take out.” A no-deal Brexit would just make intensify what is already a tenuous situation.

As a final year student, I have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going. Uncertainty is pretty much a personality trait for students. The last thing we need is more of it from our government.

Plus, I’ve got an essay due on contemporary post-avant-garde poetry. I don’t have time to be worrying about something silly like Brexit.

Best wishes,

Siobhán


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