No real clarity on Brexit
Brexit negotiations have now officially begun but no real clarity was offered on the issue of immigration and freedom of movement. The lack of available migrant talent to fill skills gaps post-Brexit is one of the biggest challenges for hiring teams already facing difficulties in filling open jobs. A recent report from the CIPD and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found that low skilled and low paid jobs, including care and hospitality, fail to attract UK born workers. UK fruit farmers have also today raised concerns over the availability of migrant workers for harvesting. Despite these shortages, a quarter of employers would be reluctant to comply with proposed requirements for a job offer to be made to EU migrants before they can enter the UK.
The digital skills shortage
Confirmation of the introduction of ‘Tech (or T) Levels’ was included in the Queen’s speech, aimed at addressing the digital skills crisis faced by UK employers. Commitment was made to ensuring ‘… people have the skills they need for the high-skilled, high-wage jobs of the future, including through a major reform of technical education’. Between now and 2022, 15 new educational pathways are to be developed in 15 sectors where significant technical ability is required. Qualification standards will be designed with input from employers to ensure that specific skills needs are being addressed. Each pathway enables students to progress from Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to level 5 (Higher National Diploma equivalent) and up to level 7 for apprenticeships.
Zero hours contracts & the gig economy
As part of its election manifesto, the Government promised an improvement in workers’ rights but again no clarity was provided in this key area. The outcome of Matthew Taylor’s review into workers’ rights and zero hours contracts is expected soon. Early predictions suggest a recommendation that all employees must be offered the option of fixed hour contracts. At present approximately 5 million people in the UK work under the broad umbrella of the ‘gig economy’. No reference to corporate governance reform was made in the speech.
The national living wage (NLW)
The NLW will increase to 60% of median earnings by 2020, thereafter, it will only rise in line with average earnings. In the meantime, concerns have been voiced over stagnating pay for UK workers. According to the Financial Times, current predictions suggest that the average worker will earn less in 2021 than they did in 2008. While concerns over the ability of the NHS to attract talent have been frequently raised, no commitment was made to lift the 1% cap on public sector pay rises.
The pay gap & diversity
The gender pay gap will continue to be addressed, together with discrimination in the workplace based on issues including gender, race and faith. This comes as a new survey revealed that two fifths of employees have experienced bias at work related to their age, social background, disability and sexuality.Implementing a hiring strategy designed to reduce unconscious bias is HR’s first step towards ensuring equality and transparency and creating an effective talent management strategy.