Autumn Statement 2014: talent needs to become the new focus in the UK
The Chancellor’s Autumn statement on last Wednesday set out a positive outlook for the employment sector, workers and businesses alike.
The news from the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is encouraging – employment is at a record high at 30.8 million, up 1.7 million since 2010, and more than 1 million above its pre-recession peak. More and more people are joining the workforce, with unemployment falling by 23% this year and a further drop expected next year.
Job creation and salaries are on the up. This is having the biggest impact on women, with the gender pay gap at the lowest level in history. This is an endorsement that initiatives such as flexible working, enhanced maternity leave policies and career progression programmes are having a positive impact on the UK workforce, delivering benefits for employers and employees all over the country.
Tackling youth unemployment and equipping young people with the skills and experience they need to get onto the jobs ladder is crucial for businesses and UK plc. So the announcement that the Government intends to abolish all national insurance charges for employers taking on apprentices under 25 is welcomed. Apprenticeships offer employers the chance to grow and remain competitive, while at the same time giving young people the chance to earn while they learn. Incentives that encourage their uptake are vital for the future of the UK economy.
However, as an engine for growth, the Government and British businesses must commit to bridging skills gaps and develop concrete strategies to grow, attract and retain talent. Talent needs to become the new focus. This means using education and diversity as growth strategies to bridge skills gaps, particularly in areas such as STEM.
Last year, Adecco’s own Global Talent Competitiveness Index ranked the UK as seven in its ability to attract, retain and grow talent, ahead of many other European neighbours. However, we cannot become complacent. Global competiveness can only be achieved through collaboration between industry and Government, alongside investment in education and skills
Companies must be more active in selling opportunities to young people. Engineering and manufacturing organisations in particular have to be resolute and innovative in order to demonstrate what they can offer, whether it’s apprenticeships or a fast track to management.
To see the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in full, click here.