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Round-up of the week

Posted on 29th July 2016

GDP up in Q2

The UK economy continued to grow between March and April 2016, new figures have revealed.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), economic output went up by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of the year. This is up from 0.4 per cent in the previous three-month period.

Responding to the data, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said economic growth was "better than expected".

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, stated that the economy was in "decent shape" in the run-up to last month's EU referendum.

However, he pointed out that the ONS data is only its first estimate and that the BCC's own surveys suggest growth may have been closer to what was seen in Q1.

"The significant contribution made by the manufacturing sector is particularly encouraging, but the improvements were from a low base, and the UK economy remains reliant on the service sector to drive growth," Mr Thiru commented.

He went on to state that it is still too soon to draw firm conclusions about how the Brexit vote will impact on the UK's future growth prospects.

"But with the additional uncertainty around the business environment, addressing the long-standing underinvestment in Britain’s infrastructure in business critical areas such as transport and broadband will be vital to driving long-term growth, and will bolster business confidence," Mr Thiru said.

Employers seek foreign language skills

Foreign language skills are becoming increasingly sought after attributes by employers.

According to research by CEMS and Universum, nearly half of HR managers find it hard to find candidates with an international outlook.

Many said they struggle to find people who are capable of understanding a new culture, while some said it is difficult to hire people able to overcome culture shocks and language barriers.

Nearly nine in ten respondents said they consider foreign language skills an important asset in a candidate. Meanwhile, almost three-quarters said they like to hire from different countries to create a diverse working environment.

Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, commented: "In a time of global challenge, the world requires internationally educated, inspired leaders and employees, who can build bridges across the divides that separate us and who are globally-minded, while sensitive enough to know when it is appropriate to act locally.

"Because of this, and in light of these findings, companies need to invest in employees and managers to make sure they are equipped with the skills to operate globally."

Lack of flexible working 'could drive top talent away'

Employers might struggle to retain their top talent if they don't offer flexible working, a new survey has found.

According to research by Regus, 90 per cent of professionals who were being offered two similar jobs would choose the one that offered the most flexibility.

Richard Morris, chief executive of Regus, has therefore warned employers that if they don't offer flexible working opportunities, their best people might be strongly motivated to leave.

He insisted that flexibility is no longer seen as a perk by workers and that businesses must think "long and hard about the type of roles that they are offering to today's professionals".

"The days of the fixed hours, fixed-location job are becoming as outdated as the office fax machine," Mr Morris commented.

"A flexible role is one where the individual has more control over where and when they are productive. Managers must get better at measuring on results rather than on time spent at a specified desk."

To discuss conditions in the labour market and operating environment further, speak to one of our experts here at The Maine Group!