The recruitment of skilled staff and business innovation are being badly
hampered by the economic slowdown, a new study by the CBI finds.
The innovation activities of 84 per cent of the 400 UK companies questioned
were damaged by the downturn, according to the research.
Most companies have resp-onded to the difficult economic times by reducing
recruitment – 38 per cent cutting back or cancelling the number of skilled
staff being hired.
Tim Bradshaw, policy adviser on technology and innovation at the CBI, said
the main constraints on innovation were the economy and the availability and
cost of skilled staff.
Recruitment was the area hardest hit. In telecoms, one of the worst affected
sectors, 77 per cent admitted to cutting back. Training has also suffered, said
The study suggested that companies were ignoring the ideas culture, with
only 46 per cent having a board-level champion for innovation and only 41 per
cent running a staff suggestion scheme.
Seven in 10 businesses said skills shortages would hamper innovation in the
next two years, with engineers and technicians in particularly short supply.
Tim Fletcher, HR manager at 3M healthcare, a partner in the research, said
that innovation was key to business and should not be ignored.
"Investment in innovation is crucial. Most of our HR policies and
processes are geared around encouraging innovation," he said.
3M has a policy where 15 per cent of staff time is spent on projects they
want to work on and it richly rewards innovation.
Experts and technicians are also allowed to stay in their area of expertise
rather than moving into general management.