In this day and age, characterised by economic stagnation, dwindling spending power and limited opportunity – further compounded by the fact that it had seemingly poured cats and dogs since time immemorial – the idea that businesses might struggle to retain staff appears at first anomalous.
But it really isn’t. Even in the hardest of times, people still keep an eye on opportunities, be it for reasons that their current position isn’t just a means to an end; they’re looking for a promotion; or even a career change. Life’s an experience, after all.
Some industries buck the trend, like for example security, which, by the nature of its growing importance in society – it’s becoming an important facet of most people’s lives and of businesses – is expanding. Staff retention in this context takes on a different meaning.
Here’s a very apt example that has wider resonance. A new report from the Intelligence and Security Committee – a must read for CIOs, CISOs and the like – has observed that the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is at real risk of losing out on a generation of skilled professionals.
The reason is simple – they can’t keep hold of them (which we’ll come back to). The problem this results in, however, is very serious. Without this important, proficient and accomplished workforce, the UK’s ability to be at the top of their game and ensure that cyber crime is thwarted is at a real risk of crumbling. That’s not a pretty picture.
Iain Lobban, the director of the GCHQ, is very candid at the dilemma this reality poses. Because it’s a healthy industry and there is a growing demand for cyber security experts across the globe, professionals are simply doing what is normal – packing their bags and heading off.
When you’re presented with a great opportunity and a bump in pay, it’s logical. The government simply can’t match the salaries being offered. However it isn’t all bad. For one, it paints a very good picture of the private sector in this field and, in general, of the industry as a whole.
If, for example, you log onto Acumin’s website – a leader in information security recruitment and risk management recruitment services – what hits you is both the number of jobs available and the variety. This is an industry that is on the precipice of serious activity.
So, while the picture for the government isn’t going to change in the interim, there is a business model that can work to a satisfactory level, Mr Lobban has explained.
“One of the things that I’m looking at is whether or not we can recruit people, train them and then employ them with the expectation … of losing them at the end of that period,” he said.
“And, as they move into industry, for them to be useful for us. If they’re working with some of those companies that we work very closely with, perhaps there is a benefit that we can get from them.”
It’s not perfect, but neither is the weather or the economic situation. So, we do what we do best and we adapt, always optimistic. That’s called character and Brits have plenty of it. And hey, even Carol Kirkwood, the BBC’s popular weather presenter, says that there is sunshine around the corner. Let the good times roll.