By Richard Devall a partner at Pitmans law firm

The growth of the UK’s economy is not only bolstered by but intrinsically linked to immigration a recent study suggests.

The study, sponsored by the audit, tax and advisory services firm, KPMG, revealed that of the 115 UK firms that took part in a survey, 60% of them were optimistic about the future of the economy. Almost two thirds of the firms were planning to expand their business over the next year and a similar amount were determined to increase headcount over the next 6 months compared with 18% that plan to reduce headcount in the same period.

Many of the businesses identified a skills shortage in the UK as a result of recruitment of highly skilled individuals having become a major problem that they face when trying to grow and expand their business – in short scarcity of talent is the biggest bottleneck for growth. Indeed two out of three businesses in the study stated that they seriously struggle to source the high skilled workers they need from this country. This apparent skill shortage and the globalisation of many of the UK’s most prolific markets has caused a high proportion of firms to look to the global talent pool to source their personnel and drive forward their businesses. Almost 60% of the businesses in the study identified visa system reform as one of the main areas of legislative improvements that would benefit their businesses the most.

The survey highlighted that the above is reflected most notably in businesses requiring STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

KPMG’s survey has been expounded by Alistair Cox, the chief executive of recruitment company Hays. Cox suggests that the government’s net migration target is meaningless and exacerbates the skills shortage in the UK.

According to Hays’ “Global Skills Index” the UK has a talent mismatch of 9.6 out of 10. The index measures the gap between the skills companies need and their ability to find them in the labour market. The higher the number the greater the difficulty in finding staff. By comparison Germany scored 3.3 out of 10 and France scored 5.9.

Mr Cox stated, “The data speaks for itself. There are high-level jobs being created today in this country which we simply cannot fill. That situation is unlikely to get any easier as the economy continues to recover. If we want to build world-class businesses in a world-class economy we need world-class talent and we should be 'passport blind’ to that at a highly skilled level.”

Is there a solution?


Understand the Challenge and recognise you have a problem to solve if you want to be ahead of the pack. The challenge takes many forms. In some emerging markets business leaders are now paid double what is paid to their counter parts in the UK; The UK’s immigration policy continuously changes which makes attracting talent more difficult.

Put People First – an excellent first step is to create a global talent strategy that defines the skills and capacity needed at every level in your organisation to allow you to begin the process of matching demand with supply of talent.

Figure out what global talent really values – It’s not just pay that matters. Global talent values a good brand, attractive working conditions, quality of life, managers who develop, engage and support their talent. It is so important to tailor your proposition to the particular cultures and countries that has the talent you need. Global talent is generally drawn to organisations which are open and transparent as to their strategies and goals and how the individual contributes to it.

Pitmans has an excellent track record in advising businesses as to the best means of successfully accessing the global talent pool.