Should we be forced to hire British?26th April 2012
Imagine! You are at the race course, the pressure is on, the horses are in the ring and the ground is in top form. Now it is up to you. Based on all the information you have – performance, track record, appearance, training and attitude – you have to choose which one you think will win. You know that the competition is fierce, but if you get it right, the returns are high. So you make your choice and go to place your bet.
Just as you are about to make your payment you are told that certain restrictions apply to you and they are as follows; you can only choose a horse bred in Britain, it has to be under 3 years old, and it can have no track record of winning and have had limited training. Everyone else can take their pick. All of a sudden the game changes! You have no idea how much money you should stake. You feel constricted by the limited choice and frustrated by the fact that the odds are no longer in your favour. The excitement you felt changes to anxiety and resentment and you just don’t feel like betting any more.
Of course this would never happen on the sports field and if it did no bets would be ever be placed. And yet in the world of work this is precisely what we are being asked to do. The government has sent employers a clear message: hire young British people – and preferably those from deprived backgrounds. In racing terms it is like asking someone to put all their money on a rank outsider with no form, an unknown trainer and an inexperienced jockey. Why would anyone do that when there is a whole stable of fabulous talent to choose from?
I understand the principle behind the government’s message, but as an employer I want the freedom to choose from the whole field and not just one corner of it. As the world of business becomes increasingly tough and more competitive, only the best will survive and to do that we must be free to choose the best. It is up to young British people to prove that the odds are such that an employer is confident and willing to risk their money and bet on them.