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'Over 100,000 Brits' flood Berlin job site after Brexit vote
"Searching for job." Photo: DPA.

'Over 100,000 Brits' flood Berlin job site after Brexit vote

Published on: 01 Jul 2016 17:00 CET

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Jobspotting founder Hessam Lavi woke up last Friday morning in a similar state of shock to many people after the results of the EU referendum came in.

But his reaction was not just to the fact that Brits had opted to leave by a slight majority: His website’s servers were “almost crashing”.

“Friday morning we woke and basically all of our servers were on fire,” Lavi told The Local.

The website, which helps users find jobs across ten different countries, was experiencing a huge spike in British users. In June, there was four times the amount of traffic coming from the UK than the site had seen in May.

"Only in the past ten days, the increase is in the hundreds of thousands of more UK visitors," Lavi said.

The two-year-old Jobspotting usually doesn’t see this kind of traffic spike, even during typically busy times like right after New Year when everyone wants to make good on their resolutions, he explained.

The Local’s own jobs page saw a bump in traffic after the Brexit vote, seeing a 63 percent pageview increase on the Friday when the results were announced, compared to the day of the vote.

Jobspotting had posted a couple articles about what Brexit could mean for European workers before the vote took place and these were attracting a lot of attention. But Lavi said they’ve also seen keen interest from UK residents looking for jobs in Germany.

“For us it’s obvious that people are worried about their work, about their jobs, about their future. This is a side effect of ‘what do we do next’.”

Could Berlin steal London's talent?

Though it’s hard to tell from Google Analytics whether those searching the job site in the UK were British, or EU nationals looking to get out quick, Lavi said that they could see that 60 percent of those searching used British English, 25 percent used American English, and all other languages were 2 percent or less.

And the biggest group of users were in the age range of young professionals with 44 percent of UK traffic coming from people between 25 and 34.

Specifically users seem to be hunting around in Berlin’s tech scene, and a lot of the interest is coming from London (about 50 percent of traffic), perhaps because Berlin has a lot to offer people there, Lavi said.

“There are plenty of opportunities in Berlin, perhaps not in finance, but in IT, engineering, and marketing,” he explained.

“London has been the de facto startup hub for a long time, but Berlin is catching up and with this change, it’s accelerating… clearly people are looking for alternatives.”

Tech industry experts had said immediately after the Brexit results that the vote could turn Berlin into the new European “startup capital”.

“The framework of the EU and the stability that London will lack means it can easily attract talent from across the EU given the freedom of movement,” Lavi said. “Without this freedom of movement, London is going to suffer.”

At the same time, though, digital economy experts also lamented what this could mean for the competitiveness of a divided European tech scene in comparison with America’s Silicon Valley.

Lavi, too, voiced this kind of apprehension.

“In one way this is good, but in another way it’s sad because a vast majority of this sector in London probably voted to stay, but they are going to suffer now with this vote, which is not good for the whole tech and startup scene.”

Emma Anderson (emma.anderson@thelocal.com)

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