We entered 2008 full of optimism, and we leave it... well, let's just be glad we're leaving it. But there were plenty of thrills and spills along the way, as our review of the year will remind you.
It started full of hope. Skills secretary John Denham used Personnel Today’s 1 January issue to call on employers to make 2008 the year of skills.
He said a culture change was needed this year if the UK was to avoid the bleak economic future described in the Leitch Review. Staff training had to be ramped up quickly, he said.
However, just a week later, the first signs emerged that training would be massively overshadowed in 2008 by a far more depressing HR task.
John Philpott, chief economist at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), suggested 2008 would in fact be the year of the job cut. “Many HR professionals will be dusting off redundancy manuals in the coming months,” Philpott predicted – with alarming accuracy.
Twenty years on from the week Personnel Today’s first front cover showed that bosses believed the calibre of HR directly affected the organisation’s bottom-line, our anniversary issue carried the first definitive proof of HR’s worth.
An in-depth, two-year study by think-tanks the Work Foundation and the Institute for Employment Studies found that increasing investment in HR by 10% boosted gross profits by £1,500 per employee per year.
Meanwhile, immigration minister Liam Byrne took a tough stance on his controversial 2006 changes to the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme (HSMP). He told MPs that he stood by the changes, which campaigners estimated could force up to 40,000 foreign workers out of the UK.
At the same time, a tough new immigration policy vowed to fine employers up to £10,000 for each illegal worker they hired.
The government’s skills drive went into reverse when employers slammed its decision to close the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), its training funding vehicle.
Just a few days after dismissing rumours of an imminent closure as “absolute rubbish”, the government announced the LSC would indeed be closed by 2010.
The body, which had an annual budget in excess of £11bn, will be replaced by a new Skills Funding Agency, and extra funding for local authorities.
David Frost, director