Searching for global talent
People remain crucial to each and every UK business forced to grapple with the tail end of what has been the most challenging economic period in an entire generation.
However, while talent management and resourcing teams diligently go about their work seeking out the best recruits for their employer and developing the skills and knowledge of existing staff members, the world of recruitment consultancy within the UK is suffering from another wave of restrictive legislation and ‘red tape’.
The latest is the introduction to the UK of the Agency Workers Directive Regulations 2010 (AWR), which comes into force in October and is likely to have a negative impact on UK-based recruitment agencies. For those unaware of the law change, the new regulation will mean that agency workers who remain employed by the same company for a 12-week period will receive work and employment conditions the same as those of permanent staff.
The impact of the AWR on the recruitment industry is still somewhat unclear but one has to question why it is needed given the current economic conditions, and in the professional sector particularly where temporary or contract staff already earn more than their permanent colleagues.
Potential long-term effects
As HR and resourcing executives will be well aware, the UK market has historically had a strong temporary and contract market that has encouraged businesses, particularly those in financial services, to set up here, which has assisted London and other UK cities to grow their talent pools. In addition, it has given businesses the confidence in the employment law to remain flexible with regard to short and long term recruitment decisions that is needed in this fast moving market.
Unfortunately, the AWR could make the UK less attractive to potential new business ventures which in turn could have a detrimental effect on the UK recruitment industry as a whole. This goes some way to explaining our decision to open up an office in Singapore earlier this year.
However, it is not just the regulatory environment that is making a difference to recruitment in London: there is also the beginning of an ‘anti-City’ feeling entering our market, increased tax rates and more red tape and costs, including the new paternity rights being contemplated at the moment.
Expanding to other parts of the world
This situation is a world away from the environment we find in Singapore. Rather than over-regulating the market and putting obstacles in the path of employers, their number one priority is establishing a system that, above all else, encourages businesses to invest in the tropical island state. The government understands that being business friendly will always have a positive impact on the local economy, where new business investors will employ both local as well as foreign labour and who in turn will pay local taxes.
Rather than have a raft of new regulations and government bodies such as those in the UK, Singapore has one, the Ministry of Manpower, which is straightforward and welcoming in its approach to new investment.
As a result Bayley Needham has already signed business terms with locally established investment banks, has started to build strong relationships with HR teams and already begun to make placements. It is an environment in which we enjoy doing business, and more importantly, where we are succeeding. This is without doubt helped by the government’s business-friendly approach and willingness to encourage investment.
The pool of talent in Singapore is not as deep as that of London which means that those financial institutions setting up in Singapore can sometimes find it harder to identify potential employees at required levels without the services of specialist recruitment firms.
Looking to the future
It would be incorrect to suggest that we are contemplating reigning in our efforts to do business in London. London will continue to be one of the world’s primary financial centres.
However, the world we live and work in today is continuously becoming a smaller place, and just as HR teams across the UK move into international talent pools to drive up effectiveness, recruitment businesses like ours will continue to seek out alternatives to the legislation-bound UK, and so areas such as Asia where ease of investment and increasing employment are politically encouraged rather than restricted, will always be perceived positively.