Speaking last week at the annual CBI Business Summit in London, Albert Ellis, CEO of global professional recruitment consultancy Harvey Nash, issued a wake-up call to United Kingdom businesses to “modernize or miss out” on the next generation of recruits and risk losing its competitive edge in the global economy. He warned that businesses cannot afford to be complacent, but need to act now to ensure their future relevance to a global labor market.

 

In his speech, Ellis claims social, demographic, and economic changes and inadequate educational programs have caused an endemic skills shortage in the U.K. and left businesses trailing in the wake of increased global competition. He predicts:

·         By 2030, 46 percent of the U.K. population will be aged 50 or over, rising from 33 percent in 2002

·         By 2012, skilled migrants will contribute £77 billion to the U.K. economy and will indirectly support more than 650,000 U.K. jobs

·         By 2012, an extra 19,000 skilled information technology and telecommunications workers will be needed as demand rises for e-commerce and software specialists; Vietnam is already producing graduates at a rate of 4:1 compared to the U.K.

 

Speaking at the summit, he pointed to the “Generation Y” mentality and skilled migration as the key to future business success.

 

"In these times of growing global competition, aging populations and economic migration, U.K. companies have never depended more on the knowledge and brainpower of their employees to stay competitive,” said Ellis. “New generation recruits are mobile, connected and aspirational. To find the right people at the right time in the right place, employers need to adapt to this new model or risk being bypassed altogether. Yet, although the demands and habits of new recruits may be changing, the next generation is not the problem, it's the solution. It will make the difference in overcoming these challenges and it is up to businesses to evolve in order to tap into that potential.

 

“Similarly, far from undermining the U.K. labor market, migration is critical to future economic stability, helping to fill in the gaps created by older and under-skilled workforces. We should not be seeking to compete in every area of expertise across the global economy. If Vietnam and China can use their IT graduates to produce high-quality software at very low cost, we should harness that resource, not try and compete with it. Businesses need to embrace skilled migration, recruit from wider social groups, and offer flexible and rewarding working practices to attract and keep a new generation of talent and ultimately help safeguard the long-term competitiveness of the U.K. in the global economy.”