Lord Leitch defends HR profession as in tune with business objectives

EXCLUSIVE

Skills supremo Lord Leitch has leapt to the defence of the HR profession as it battles to convince chief executives of its value.

The man charged with reviewing the UK’s skills to achieve economic growth said HR was the key to ensuring organisations prosper in the 21st century.

He told Personnel Today: “I do not think the future of HR is in doubt. HR has a fundamental role to play within business.

“The profession has people who are proactive, completely in tune with business objectives, and can influence the agenda on people development and succession.”

HR is still reeling from the Key Trends in Human Capital study by consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, which last month said the function had failed to demonstrate influence in the boardroom and faced an uncertain future.

The study found that 43% of the 1,150 chief executives interviewed globally lacked confidence in their HR department to recruit and retain the best talent.

Leitch, a non-executive director at United Business Media and Lloyds TSB, said that the HR directors in both companies had impressed him for the “dramatic” changes they had made to the business.

But he recognised that there were some organisations where HR was under-performing.

“Like many things in life, how you perform determines your future,” he said. “If some HR functions in companies are not performing, then they get sidelined.”

He added: “I’m a fan of HR because my most developmental phase as an employee was when I was in charge of HR, working out things like people policy.”

The Leitch Review of Skills, published in December 2006, warned the UK must radically upskill its workers to compete globally.

Leitch again urged businesses to sign the skills pledge but said it was “too early to tell” if this would ever become mandatory.

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