Brexit Impact: Winning and Losing Industries

If you’ve been waiting for Brexit-related uncertainty to clear before plotting your next career move, the good news is that we’re beginning to see which industries are benefiting from the split—and which ones seem to be losing ground.

While the final exit terms are still being worked out, there is a stark divide in how various businesses have fared over the past 17 months. The winners are more likely to retain or hire additional staff, while the losers may be forced to downsize, restructure or relocate key operations.

Are you ready to make a change? Here’s a look at the winning and losing industries thus far (and those that are too close to call).


Tech Industry Overall

If you’re among the 41 percent of tech pros working in a traditional industry, there may never be a better time to jump to a high-paying job within a “pure” technology company.

The UK continues to be the epicentre of digital business in Europe, according to Tech Nation 2017, a report produced by Tech City UK. What’s more, Silicon Valley investors have more than doubled funding for UK technology companies this year.

“The major tech companies in Cambridge can’t wait to see if a proper deal gets done; they’re moving ahead,” explained Alan Todd, a local business consultant. In fact, expansion is taking place across the UK. Apple, Facebook and Google are continuing to build new offices in London, while Microsoft has opened multiple data centres across the region.

For those who prefer a small- to mid-size firm, there’s no shortage of opportunities. The UK’s digital tech economy encompasses some 58,000 businesses within 16 different subsectors. Hot segments include app and software development, data management and analytics, and hardware, in addition to up-and-coming sectors such as cloud computing, fintech, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (A.I.).

Thomas Lane, business transformation director for Replus, expects both agritech robotics and logistics and supply chain technology to benefit from Brexit, as well: “UK productivity ranks among the lowest of the major economies and needs to improve.”

The UK is already behind when it comes to investing in supply chain automation. “Manufacturers are going to need more efficient ways to move goods and components in and out of the UK after Brexit,” Lane added. That’s where technology comes in.

Pharmaceuticals and Biotech

The pharmaceutical industry has been a major contributor to the UK economy in recent years, and the newly passed budget provides additional funding for R&D, as well as investments in infrastructure, housing, business investment and development across the Oxford and Cambridge corridor, suggested Keith Boyfield, an economist and president of Keith Boyfield Associates.

“Medical research and pharmaceuticals cleared a major hurdle with the latest budget,” Boyfield explained. “The victory should help position them for continued growth.”

And you don’t even need a clinical background to cash in: some 14.7 percent of the businesses within pharmaceuticals and biotech are now primarily digital businesses.

Construction and Infrastructure

UK cities are also experiencing record levels of construction spending on housing, retail, hotels and offices. The industry is not only hampered by a shortage of skilled construction workers; research by Engineering UK found that an additional 1.8 million engineers and technically qualified people will be needed by 2025.

Localized Manufacturing

Lane also expects 3D printing, A.I. and post-Brexit changes in trade and importing rules to drive growth in localized manufacturing. For instance, it may eventually prove more cost effective to manufacture automotive parts in Britain than to import them from the EU. (By the way, Britain’s automotive industry is expected to flourish, but the success could be undermined by a lack of skilled engineers and technology professionals.)


Oil and Gas

Brexit is likely to have a negative impact on the already beleaguered oil and gas industry, Boyfield said, with one exception: “Fracking for shale gas in the UK has just begun,” he explained. “If these initial fracking endeavors succeed it could spawn an entirely new industry.”

Education Research

If you work for a university, with your salary paid by grant funding, consider updating your CV. Experts predict that Britain stands to lose substantial research funding from the EU when Brexit goes into effect.


These industries are still considered toss-ups that could go either way:

Financial Services

Some experts predict a significant loss of revenue and jobs, while others foresee potential opportunities for growth. If you work for a bank, be prepared to dig deeper into your company’s critical numbers, monitor new developments—and don’t ignore plum job opportunities that come up in other industries.

Renewable Energy

While nearly 126,000 people are currently employed across the UK’s renewable energy industry, job growth is slowing, and it’s too early to tell what Brexit means for the sector. “Investors are being more cautious,” Boyfield said. “It’s possible that investments in solar and wind energy projects may have peaked.”


One Response to “Brexit Impact: Winning and Losing Industries”

December 06, 2017 at 12:19 pm, Eric D said:

I don’t find it anyway plausible that the UK Tech Industry is going to “win” from Brexit. I’ve been working in London as an app developer for over decade and typically about half my developer colleagues are from the EU.

Even with the availability of EU talent, one of the main problems we face has always been to find enough qualified developers.

The EU developers on my current team are already making plans to leave. Even I’m moving to Paris in the summer and I have a British passport.

In a few years time, what tech startup is going to put their office in London and unnecessarily restrict their available talent pool to UK only? we simply don’t produce enough people with those skills. I suspect a lot of them will just base themselves in Berlin or elsewhere.


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