The UK is leaving the European Union; that much we know. The nature of our future relationship with member countries, and the economic implications, are still being debated.
For one Scottish company, however, the emphasis is on seizing the moment and positioning itself to take advantage of what it regards are some certainties post-Brexit. And it is urging Scotland’s business community to do the same.
“There may be some economic turmoil, there may be a slow-down, but our focus has been on how to ‘Brexit-proof’ our company,” said Gareth Biggerstaff, chief executive of Be-IT, Scotland’s largest privately-owned recruitment consultancy.
“There’s a lot of doom and gloom around, but over the past six months we have invested our energy in identifying where there is likely to be growth in the economy.”
Biggerstaff believes that it is not only his duty as the custodian of an SME he launched five years ago as a two-person office in Edinburgh, and which has now grown to a 35-plus team with a new headquarters in Glasgow and a satellite office in Belfast – but also of other business leaders.
“Understanding the sectors that will remain robust during this time, and those that will grow, means that you can be well-positioned to win new business,” he said. “It is incumbent on employers to anticipate demand and be ready to meet it. When one company does well, it has a ripple effect across the wider economy.”
Digital transformation of business and the public sector will remain key drivers of the economy, said Biggerstaff. Be-IT specialises in recruiting professionals for IT, digital, project management, and leadership roles.
He cited examples of technologies – data, cyber security,and artificial intelligence – that will see exponential growth in demand for a skilled workforce as process of change plays out in the private sector and in the delivery of public services, such as health and social care.
As Scotland grows its reputation as a centre of excellence in those specialties, indigenous growth and inward investment will in turn generate demand in the wider service economy.
Be-IT has also launched a new transformation division, dedicated to helping businesses manage digital disruption and regulatory change. The team, which will be based in Glasgow and Edinburgh, will focus primarily on providing expert staff to the financial services sector experienced in effective business change.
“These are turbulent times for business with disruption being caused by many different factors,” said Nikola Kelly, the company’s managing director. “Brexit will have a huge impact, not least significant regulatory overhaul, while increasing digitisation is having a profound influence on everything we do.
“Our new division will be able to ensure businesses across the UK are able to find the best people to help them deal with these issues. We have experience building other teams operating in the same market and are confident this new focus will be of great value.”
Be-IT’s expansion comes after the firm’s latest financial results saw gross profit up by 55% and turnover increase to £11.2m in its fourth full year of trading. It also follows the opening at the beginning of the year of the new headquarters in Glasgow, which forms part of the company’s UK and international expansion plans.
“It was a significant landmark in the journey of our business,” added Biggerstaff. “The new facility will allow us to cement our position in Scotland and aid our expansion plans into Ireland.”