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Hays calls for G20 action to stimulate global jobs creation and mobility

12th April, 2011

  • New Hays survey reveals that the world’s working age population will rise by 1 billion in next 20 years
  • All growth to come in developing world, as the developed world ages
  • Developing and developed markets still face looming shortages and imbalances of key skills
  • National labour market and immigration restrictions may worsen situation

Hays plc, the global specialist recruiting firm, has called on governments and industries across the world to take joined-up action to tackle the looming threat of increased global unemployment as the world’s working population is set to increase dramatically. With many countries already at record levels of unemployment, co-ordinated action needs to be taken now to avert future labour crises as significantly more people are set to join the global labour force. To this end Hays has developed a Five Point Plan which can be found further on in this release.

Today Hays, which placed more than 230,000 people in work across 30 countries in 2010, publishes a seminal report, Creating Jobs in a Global Economy, compiled in partnership with economic forecaster Oxford Economics, illustrating the challenges ahead for employers, employees and governments across the world.

The report forecasts the dramatic movements of workforce, power and wealth across the globe over the next 20 years. The world’s working-age population is expected to increase by over a billion people in this timeframe. However, all of this growth will be developing economies. The developed world will see its workforce shrink and age.

Governments and industries must start to plan now how they will deal with this imbalance, both to harness the economic potential that this larger workforce can provide as well as creating the skills that will otherwise become in increasingly short supply in many areas. Developing markets will face a period of rapid industrialisation and infrastructure construction which will require access to skilled and experienced workers currently unavailable in sufficient numbers domestically. Similarly, the developed markets will need to find ways of maintaining their competitive edge in key industries by investing in the future skills required, albeit against a backdrop of a smaller and older pool of workers.

Alistair Cox, CEO, Hays, said, “Our report illustrates the profound and stark challenges our world will face in the future both to create employment opportunities for a billion more people and balance the mismatch we are already seeing between supply and demand of key skills. Only by thinking globally can governments and companies put in place the environment to solve these conflicting challenges and create the basis for full employment and a sound global economy.”

The report demonstrates the need for employment policy to be discussed at the G20 in Mexico and at the WEF next year. Cox added, “Today everyone is talking about the growth in the Chinese population. The fact is, China’s working age population is set to plateau and then decline in our generation, just like many countries in the West. No one is yet talking about how industries will employ the extra billion people who will soon be looking for work in India, Africa and South America. That is a huge opportunity if governments and businesses get it right, but a big social problem if we get it wrong.”

Jens Tholstrup, Managing Director UK, Oxford Economics commented: "At a time of enormous and rapid change, all organisations need to better understand how they will be impacted by global trends. Hays enlisted the support of Oxford Economics to help them anticipate how these trends will shape the market for skilled labour over the next two decades. The analysis we have undertaken supports Hays’ strategy of developing its international presence in high growth potential countries and sectors and its desire to engage with policymakers across the globe on labour market policies."

At Hays we have developed a five point plan that should be the basis of further discussion by world and business leaders:

1. Keep national borders open for the movement of skilled labour.

This report demonstrates there needs to be a massive transfer of skills and labour between the developed and developing worlds, in both directions. For example, the developing world will need thousands of skilled engineers from America and Europe whilst there will be huge demand for health workers in the other direction as populations’ age. Labour protectionism will only cause hardship and ultimately stunt world economic growth.

2. Agree an international code to facilitate employee migration.

Currently policy on skill migration is decided on a national or at best regional level, despite the fact that these are global trends. This creates a piecemeal, and often infuriatingly complex and inefficient set of rules governing the movement of labour. We would like to see these issues debated on a world scale, through the G20 or similar body to agree a code to govern the enormous cross-border flows of skilled labour that this report predicts.

3. Invest in training and education.

This report shows that the world’s labour market will become increasingly ‘hourglass’ shaped, with semiskilled workers becoming squeezed out of an automated workplace. To alleviate this trend all governments and companies need to invest in equipping people with relevant skills for our future industries.

4. Create employment opportunities in the developing world.

In the past 20 years there has been enormous growth in employment in China, as the population there has increased rapidly. But the number of people of working age in China will reach a plateau in the next 20 years and attention must move elsewhere, to the Indian subcontinent, Latin America and Africa. This vast new workforce represents a huge opportunity for those who can tap into it, or potential dissatisfaction and unrest if it is left idle.

5. Retain older people in the workplace.

Over the next 20 years developed economies will become increasingly reliant on the contribution from workers aged 60 or more. Many countries such as Britain have already passed anti-discrimination legislation to enable older people to stay at work and remain productive, but there is more to be done both in terms of maintaining the skills of an aging workforce as well as providing opportunities for these workers.

‘Creating Jobs in a Global Economy 2011-2030’ follows the publication last year of ‘Action on Skills and Jobs: The Hays Manifesto for Employment’ that outlined the actions needed to create a healthy employment market in the UK.


For further information please contact:

Neil Bennett /Liz Morley
T. +44 (0) 20 7379 5151

Freida Moore/Claire Fowler
Hays plc
T. +44 (0)20 7391 6652 or 020 7259 8821

About Hays

Hays plc is the leading global specialist recruitment group. It is market leader in the UK and Australia, and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. As at 31 December 2010, the Group employed 7,086 staff operating from 257 offices in 30 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2010:

- the Group reported net fees of £557.7 million and operating profit before exceptional items of £80.5 million;
- the Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 180,000 people into temporary assignments;
- 26% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 30% in Continental Europe & RoW and 44% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
- the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees; and
- Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands,
   New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, USA and the United Kingdom.

About Oxford Economics

Oxford Economics is one of the world’s foremost independent global forecasting and research consultancies, renowned for its econometric-based consulting and extensive research services. Founded in 1981, Oxford Economics was originally formed as a joint, commercial venture with the business college of Oxford University, Templeton College. Since its foundation, Oxford Economics has grown into an independent provider of global economic, industry and business analysis, headquartered in Oxford, UK.

Oxford Economics is a world leader in quantitative analysis, going deeper and further than other economic advisory firms, in helping its clients to fully assess, the opportunities and challenges they face for future strategy and direction. It specialises in global quantitative analysis and evidence based business and public-policy advice, underpinned by a sophisticated portfolio of business forecasting services consisting of regularly updated reports, databases and models on countries, cities and industries.