Is the talent dream fading?

“I have a dream.” Martin Luther King told his listening audience on 28 August 1963. Whilst his passionate address was a call on America to end racism, “I have a dream” has been a mantra of many CEOs, FDs, HRDs etc for many years in every territory since the 1980’s regarding their next employees.

The wealth of qualified professionals who have presented themselves to businesses over the last 30 years has increased colossally. To better themselves in the workplace, students rather than going straight into employment as parents preferred in the 60’s and 70’s, have been seeking the “edge” by continuing into higher and even higher education.

Such desire has been applauded by businesses seeking those candidates with the drive and ambition to take business – of all sizes – forward to meet all of their corporate objectives. Taking in the current situation in the UK:

  • There’s stability through the Conservatives holding majority Government
  • UK economic growth accelerated by 0.7% in the second quarter (against a rise of only 0.4% in Q1). Compare the growth in the UK against the concerns in China – the world’s second biggest economy. On 28 July saw their stock exchange fall over 8% due to the performance of some of their industrial powerhouses.
  • A report released this week by reed.co.uk reveals graduate jobs, apprenticeships and their salaries soar. Another sign of confidence from employers across the UK?
  • Highly ambitious businesses such as logistics and delivery people DPD and growing supermarket chain Aldi are creating roles to feed customer demand.

Yet, this is all set against the backdrop of

  • Barclays, Centrica and HSBC cutting ‘000’s of roles across the world despite their ongoing profitability.
  • UK public sector roles will come under scrutiny; The Government’s Spending Review will be published this autumn and which will define how much each government and state department needs to trim its budget in % terms. Police forces up and down the country are losing personnel; 2500 announced only last week at West Midlands Police.
  • In some sectors, there’s a perceived “promotion blockage”. Employees are apprehensive to seek pastures new, therefore becoming comfortable in their surrounding and becoming the antithesis of ambition, aspiration and drive – all the hallmarks of the original “talent dream”. (Source FT).
  • Zero contract hours are not declining.

In our view, the talent dream has not ended, just been reappraised. Employers are looking for talent, but to fill a specific skill set and never have they been more particular about what they want. This is the opposite to previous years (pre-2008) where swathes of personnel were employed and the best trained to reach the top.  Back to the present day, there are candidates who have these skill sets and thus know their worth – clients need to move fast. Often it’s not fast enough as most of UK Plc is after the same demographic of individual and the war for talent has never been more fierce. Recruiters do hold a key and by knowing their client base and candidates they can make effective, swift appointments by being the trusted partner of both client and candidate.

I have a dream. It’s now more “I have a realisation, a talent realisation.”

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