How closed borders are impacting the recruitment world!

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything. Now employers and employees alike are considering a blended working model with less focus on being in the office and more flexibility. Everybody wins.

But another aspect of the pandemic which hasn’t received as much attention is the impact of closed borders on recruitment. In March 2020, many borders were closed overnight. Even the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland, which has been in (unofficial) operation since 1922 has been closed.

Closed borders have meant that those seeking new work and opportunities in a new country cannot migrate. This has a disproportionate effect on migrant workers such as seasonal or agricultural workers, many of whom could not travel due to COVID concerns, even if they had secured work permits.

Another impact of closed borders is the effect on the recruitment industry as a whole. According to the World Employment Confederation, “the activities of the recruitment agency sector in many countries has dropped below levels seen during the recession following the 2008 global financial crisis.”

As industries slowed or completely shut down, demand for recruitment in the hospitality sector dropped while demand in the healthcare sector rose. The recruitment sector has had to adapt to this change and figure out new ways of supporting candidates and clients through e-recruitment systems and an increased reliance on video interview technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and others. While this doesn’t solve the issue of closed borders, it has allowed the sector as a whole to improve its processes, something which will stand to it post COVID.

What the COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted is the importance of security. There have been reports of some workers being left stranded in the countries they were working in just as COVID hit. Others have had job offers paused or rescinded as a result of the closed borders of many countries. Mandatory hotel quarantine also impacts this as many workers cannot afford to pay for 2 weeks of quarantine.

The above are just some of the unique challenges that the recruitment industry has faced and will continue to face over the next couple of months. What’s clear is that the sooner that international borders can open safely, the better.