HR, job creation and an economic imperative

How focussed are you on job creation? How often do you have conversations with your Board about growth and opportunity? How often are you talking about investment in the future? Not only the capital investment, but investment in skills?

If it isn’t on your agenda, then I suggest you take a moment with yourself, take a deep breath and start to have the conversation each and every day.

We all know the state of the economy. We all know that unemployment is at the highest level for the best part of two decades. We know that youth unemployment is a social tragedy. And we know that the Government is ill-equipped and ill prepared to deal with it.

So who is going to make the difference?

Well the answer is that business is partly responsible for getting us into this mess, and we are the only people who can get us out of it. And we aren’t going to do that by focussing on cost cutting, rationalisation, downsizing and offshoring. Nor are we going to, in the long run, add value to our business by doing so.

I know that I run the risk of being called naïve here. But is chasing short-term share holder return really less naïve than building long-term structural value in your business? I think not.

We need to be thinking creatively, innovatively about ways in which we can bring new skills into our businesses, the ways in which we can train a future generation of workers and leaders to safeguard the long-term prosperity of our businesses, of our communities and of the economy as a whole.

That means investment, but it does not mean throwing cash away. Investment is about long-term value creation, which in turn provides long-term shareholder return and long-term security and prosperity for our existing and future workforces.

Think about the opportunities that exist, think about the creation of quality internships, think about taking advantage of apprenticeships, stop moaning about the lack of graduate skills and start thinking about what your business can do to train and develop the future generation. Think about taking a risk.

HR has to, HAS TO, take a lead on this. We have to be championing the needs of our businesses, being future focussed, being (dare I say it) strategic. We need to define the imperatives, formulate the convincing arguments and we need to be making them day in and day out. We are supremely placed to not only make the case, but to be the catalyst for economic regeneration.

Large, small, medium-sized, in the public, the private or the third sector. We can all play a role in this, we all need to play a role in this. Because if we don’t, then who will?

The opportunity is there, the incentive is there. The forward thinking, the innovative, the true leaders know and understand this. Success is part risk, part planning. Put the plans in place and take the risk. Step up and take the challenge.

Whether you agree or disagree, I’ll be expanding on this argument, along with Alison Chisnell Group HR Director at Informa Business Information at #TruLondon in February. We’d welcome your contribution here or there.


  1. Recruiter List (@REClist) · February 8, 2012

    Thought provoking and deeply relevant. The goals of business and society need to be re-aligned. However you mention: “The opportunity is there, the incentive is there.” Where is the incentive?

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      I think the incentive lies in businesses creating sustainable growth and creating long term value.

  2. Doug Shaw · February 8, 2012

    I like the rallying cry. Part of my manifesto for 2012 is to give useful work to others. I’d love to get productive enough to act as a small bridge for people off the dole and on to something bigger. I think small businesses like mine can make a difference by helping people gain some practical experience and skill to supplement qualifications etc.

    I think it’s gonna happen, and yet I am continually frustrated by how long bigger businesses take to make their minds up about stuff. Stuff like whether or not they actually want to commission smaller businesses like mine.

    For example I was approached early last year by a company with annual revenues in excess of £2bn who wanted some help with what I’d loosely call…’engagement’. We had a meeting, I made a proposal back in May 2011 which I’ve been told is ‘great’, even went so far as to say ‘we love your ideas’. We’re still in limbo. This project could help me, plus two associates, deliver productive stuff for the customer for a few months. In addition I’d need to give project management and other work out too – and it’s this work I’d like to give to people currently unemployed. I’m told the budget is there, etc, etc. Honestly I’ve all but written this off, just giving it a nudge once in a while, because if and when it does go live I’d love to help make stuff happen.

    So in a rather rambling way I’m saying yes, let’s get on with it. Now please. Stop fucking about and let’s get this damn economy growing again!

    • Doug Shaw · February 8, 2012

      PS – Bill Boorman did say I had an open invite to #TruLondon so I may come along and heckle and stuff, m’kay?

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      I agree that SMEs have a massive role to play here. Perhaps more than larger companies because they are generally bolder and less shackled by shareholder opinion.

  3. Henry · February 9, 2012

    Brave words, well said.
    How many have you taken on?
    I’ve taken on one in a tiny business, so I’m polishing my medals.

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      I’m not entering into a dick swinging competition Henry! But we’re doing our bit. And so are you. I’m proud. 🙂

  4. Pingback: Round-up of #trulondon 5 content |
  5. Pingback: Some Thoughts About Youth Unemployment « T Recs
  6. John McGurk · February 15, 2012

    Very thoughtful piece and we at CIPD concur. HR needs to be more “skilfully” challenging on all sorts of agenda’s. Business Savvy is not boardroom servility. Short termism and downward directed strategy will kill more organisations than it saves. Neil’s call echoes ours for HR to challenge with leadership and integrity issues like the need for skills and learning. Yes ultimately the need for jobs too. Siting on cash piles, can give you corporate haemerrhoids, make you a t/o target etc. There are good sound reasons/ ROI in skills and learning and Neil makes that crytal clear.. We are are saying more in our forthcoming Buisiess savvy research to be released on March 15th at our BP conference: John McGurk CIPD L&TD Adviser and project Lead Business savvy: Giving HR The Edge.

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      Thanks for commenting John. I look forward to reading the research.

  7. Pingback: What are companies for? | Flip Chart Fairy Tales
  8. LebHR · February 17, 2012

    This topic is gaining some popularity lately, and all for the good causes. Unemployment really is becoming devastating, especially for youths!
    Creating opportunities might be one solution, but also considering how to make the current opportunities or vacancies more suitable for job seekers, by requesting the right skills vs requesting too much. Few years ago i used to see job vacancies which request the person to be a know-it-all, this is not valid any more and might be one of the causes for this mess we are living in.

    Check out our latest post Love Your Job | Positive Attitude
    Are you a job seeker, employee, manager, or HR fanatic? Visit for info and tips.
    LebHR – The Lebanese Human Resources Community

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      I agree this is also about investing in skills rather than expecting them to walk through the door.

  9. Pingback: What are existing companies for? « Left Outside
  10. Breda Leyne · March 3, 2012

    Cogito Development Projects are working with ABP the specialist business awarding organisation on some some post-graduate units/qualifications on “intrapreneurship” – both to give senior managers some support in creating more innovative cultures within corporations and also for young graduates who could be used to foster innovation within the security of employment. email if anyone is interested. Given the increasing number of internships, maybe one way to reward young interns who could spark new business would be to give them opportunity to access a qualification?

    • Neil · March 14, 2012

      Is that free advertising??

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s