THE boss of a Portsmouth firm that helps EU students and professionals come to the UK to do work experience says his business has an uncertain future thanks to Brexit.
IBD Partnership, in Northumberland Road, Southsea, has been running for 10 years and works with 15 different EU countries to welcome 1,000 students a year to Portsmouth.
CEO Raja Ali said the delay to Brexit has created confusion that has had a negative effect on his business.
He said: ‘Customers are unwilling to send us people as they’re confused about what’s going on. Visa issues will be an additional cost that the EU or UK businesses may not wish to fund.
‘If the company can no longer accept EU citizens, the losses for the Portsmouth economy are going to be great. We welcome over 1,000 students every year, with an average spending of £1,000 per person, that’s a huge income loss for the city.’
IBD Partnership manages many educational projects from Europe including Erasmus+, which is an EU funded international programme, as well as sourcing individual internship programmes in UK businesses. It also offers language courses.
Raja added: ‘It is very sad. Not just from a business point of view, but from an education point of view. It has been giving so many opportunities to so many different people.
‘We sell Britain to them, that’s what we do, we sell the people, the food, the drink, the way of life. They create friendships and relationships here, and we hear so much positive feedback.’
The company also arranges host housing and it has around 300 host families in the UK, mainly in Portsmouth, which rely on that income.
Raja said: ‘What are those families going to do when we cannot supply them with that income? It’s terrible.’
Raja said that if there is a ‘no deal’ Brexit, then redundancies would be inevitable.
He said: ‘We don’t want to lose valuable team members but we have seen a significant impact already.’
To mitigate this, the firm is looking at branching out to non-EU countries such as Dubai, Japan and Malaysia.
But Raja said the firm was predicting a quiet summer.
He added: ‘Sadly we haven’t had any confirmations for people coming for September, and this July and August is going to be very quiet.’