The war for talent will emerge as one of the key issues facing tech companies in 2014, according to a leading figure in the industry.
Phil Smith boss of Cisco Systems in the UK and chairman of Britain’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which describes its chief aim as accelerating ‘economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation’, argues that all firms with need to “think” about talent in the upcoming year.
Describing what emerged in a recent catch-up with graduates, he argued that many questioned what action businesses would be taking to retain today’s skilled employees.
“Genuinely, the first question the new lot asked me was: ‘How are you going to keep me at Cisco in three years’ time?’,” he said.
“They didn’t ask in an arrogant way, they were saying it as it is: their world is mobile and fast-moving, and they wanted to know how are we going to keep them. It was a great question and made us think.”
Smith also went on to argue that over the next five years in Britain there will be a demand for 550,000 new technology jobs, meaning that competition for the best candidates will be alive and well in the years to come.
“We’ve got to recognise that we’re in a completely different business world now,” he says. “There’s a real battle for intellectual horsepower and talent, a real battle about how to get the best people into your business. Unless companies recognise that, they’re not going to survive.”
Smith outlined that while government initiatives play a part in helping to nurture the next generation of talent, firms must also take the initiative to ensure that they don’t fall behind when it comes to the global race toward technological innovation.
“The Government has a role to play,” he says. “But companies need to get far more involved, too.”
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