Retaining overseas talent must be top HR priority

Retaining top talent from overseas needs to become a priority for HR if the UK is to prevent more skilled foreign workers from leaving the country, one expert has claimed.

More than 3 million immigrants to the UK in the past 30 years have subsequently left, and those with ‘high skills and high education’ are the ones most likely to leave the country, according to Shall We Stay or Shall We Go: Re-migration trends among Britain’s immigrants, a new report by the Institute for Public Policy Research.

HR can no longer rely on cultural ties keeping employees in the UK, and must explore other ways of retaining top talent, explained Sean Drury, international mobility partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

He said: “We have a new class of employee that is not tied to any particular country. Where there are no cultural ties in highly mobile industries, like IT, finance and support services, HR needs to be focussed on looking at how to retain that key talent. They are not going to be tied by family commitments or any other cultural commitments.”

Aside from HR playing its part, the government must also look for ways to attract and retain foreign talent, including offering tax breaks for mobile workers, as has been done in other European countries, added Drury.

“Countries with low barriers to entry will attract these employees and, ultimately, their employers. Increasingly, we are seeing foreign governments, especially within Europe, give specific tax breaks for such mobile employees, such as in France, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.”

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